No matter if you are going on a long or short journey, being prepared and staying safe is important.

This month we're focusing on the seatbelts and car seats.

Seatbelts and child car seats

You must wear a seat belt if one is fitted in the seat you’re using - there are only very few exceptions.

You’re also only allowed 1 person in each seat fitted with a seat belt. You can be fined up to £500 if you don’t wear a seat belt.

Child car seats

The law requires all children travelling in the front or rear seat of any car, van or goods vehicle must use the correct child car seat until they are either 135 cm in height or 12 years old (which ever they reach first). After this they must use an adult seat belt. There are very few exceptions.

It is the driver's responsibility to ensure that children under the age of 14 years are restrained correctly in accordance with the law.

Types of seat

It is very important to ensure that your child travels in an appropriate child restraint, which:

  • Conforms to the United Nations standard, ECE Regulation 44.04 (or R 44.03) or to the new i-size regulation, R129. Look for the 'E' mark label on the seat.
  • Is suitable for your child's weight and size
  • Is correctly fitted according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Height-based seats

  • Height-based seats are known as ‘i-Size’ seats. They must be rear-facing until your child is over 15 months old. Your child can use a forward-facing child car seat when they’re over 15 months old.
  • You must check the seat to make sure it’s suitable for the height of your child.
  • Only EU-approved height-based child car seats can be used in the UK. These have a label showing a capital ‘E’ in a circle and ‘R129’.

Weight-based seats

The seat your child can use (and the way they must be restrained in it) depends on their weight.

Only EU-approved weight-based child car seats can be used in the UK. These have a label showing a capital ‘E’ in a circle and ‘ECE R44’.

Appropriate seats for children's weight:

  • 0-10kg - Lie-flat or ‘lateral’ baby carrier, rear-facing baby carrier, or rear-facing baby seat using a harness
  • 0-13kg - Rear-facing baby carrier or rear-facing baby seat using a harness
  • 9-18kg - Rear- or forward-facing baby seat using a harness or safety shield
  • 15-25kg - Rear- or forward-facing child car seat (high-backed booster seat or booster cushion) using a seat belt, harness or safety shield
  • 22-36kg - Rear- or forward-facing child car seat (high-backed booster seat or booster cushion) using a seat belt, harness or safety shield

Booster cushions

New regulations regarding the sale and use of booster cushions took effect on 9th February 2017. The new rules now 

mean that manufacturers will no longer be allowed to introduce new models of backless booster seats for children shorter than 125cm and weighing less than 22kg.

This change does not affect existing models of seats or cushions.

Other road safety resources:

Car tyres

It is essential that your check your car tyres are in good condition to keep you and your passengers safe on the road. The driver is responsible for the condition of the tyres. Check your tyres at least once a month

Air pressure

Check your tyre's are at the manufacturer's recommended pressure. The recommended pressure may displayed in your car - this may be in the door shut, fuel cap or owner's manual.

Condition

Remove any stones or objects from the tyre's tread. If you spot any lumps, bumps or cuts, get your tyres checked by a professional.

Tread

The UK legal minimum tread is 1.6mm across the central three quarters of the tread. Check your tyres are safe with the 20 pence test:

The 20p test

Put a 20 pence coin into three different places in the tyre's tread.

  • If you can't see the outer rim of the coin, your tread is above the legal limit.
  • If you can see the outer rim of the coin, your tyre is probably below the legal limit and is unsafe. You should get your tyres checked by a professional immediately.

You should check your tyres once a month to ensure they are safe to drive on.

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How to check tyres information
Winter driving

Regular servicing and checks on your vehicle will reduce your chances of breaking down on the road, particularly in the winter months.

We've put together a winter car safety booklet collating advice and information for driving during winter.

Drink driving

Are you planning a night out and don’t know whether to drive or take a taxi?

It’s important to remember that alcohol can slow you down and affect your body’s responses making your driving unsafe, putting you and others at risk of accidents.

The Law

The alcohol limit for drivers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is as follows:

  • 80 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood,
  • 35 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath, or
  • 107 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of urine.

How much can I drink and stay under the limit?

The amount of alcohol you would need to drink to be considered over the driving limit varies from person to person.

It depends on: 

  • Your weight, age and sex
  • The type and amount of alcohol you’re drinking
  • What you’ve eaten recently
  • Your stress levels at the time
  • Certain medications

Even small amounts of alcohol can affect your ability to drive so the only safe advice is to avoid any alcohol if you are driving.  

Units of alcohol

It roughly takes 1 hour for our bodies to process 1 unit of alcohol. There’s nothing you can do to speed up the rate alcohol leaves your system, we just have to let our liver do its job by breaking down the alcohol.

If you’re thinking about driving the morning after you’ve been drinking, it’s best to consider how much you had, and how late into the night it was before you finished your last drink.

How many units are in a glass or a bottle of wine?

Looking at 12% wine:

  • A standard 175ml glass would be 2.1 units.
  • A standard 750ml bottle would be about 9 units.

How many units are in a pint of beer, cider or lager?

Beers, ciders and lagers can have a lot of variation due to their different strengths:

  • A pint of 4% lager would be about 2.3 units
  • A pint of 6.6% beer would be about 3.8 units
  • A pint of 8.2% of cider would be about 4.7 units

Driving or attempting to drive while above the legal limit or unfit through drink

You may get:

  • 6 months imprisonment
  • an unlimited fine
  • a driving ban for at least one year (three years if convicted twice within 10 years)

A conviction for drink-driving also means:

  • your car insurance costs will increase significantly
  • if you drive for work, your employer will see your conviction on your licence
  • you may have trouble travelling to countries like the USA