Travel Safe Bucks has been focusing on child seat safety this month – in particular helping parents and carers of children with additional needs.
Travel Safe Bucks is Transport for Buckinghamshire’s road safety initiative.
On a recent roadside check with Thames Valley Police, it met several parents and carers driving with children in the car, but not all of them were wearing seatbelts or in the correct child car seat.
One reason that cropped frequently was due to the fact the child had additional needs, such as autism, it was difficult to keep them in their seats without them becoming upset.
The parents and carers explained some of the issues they were facing on a daily basis during car journeys and that they didn’t know how to resolve it or where to get help.
The law states that 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 135cm in height or 12 years old, whichever comes first. After this, they must use an adult seatbelt.
Children with additional needs must use child car seats and seatbelts in the same way as children who do not have additional needs. However, if there is a medical reason that a child cannot use a child car seat or seatbelt, a doctor can decide whether to issue an exemption on medical grounds.
In some cases, a specially adapted child car seat may be necessary for a child with additional needs.
Travel Safety Bucks acknowledges it can be a challenge to find the right fit based on the various physical and behavioural challenges the child may experience.
It is encouraging parents and carers to contact companies that specialise in the carriage of children with additional needs, as they may be aware of accessories that can be used with the car seat without compromising the safety of the child.
Travel Safe Bucks also says there are a number of different solutions available, including specially designed child car seats and accessories such as clips and buckle guards, harnesses and safety vests.
Steve Broadbent, cabinet member for transport at Buckinghamshire County Council, said: “Wearing a seatbelt is crucial when travelling in a car and ensuring children are in the correct car seat is essential for their safety.
“You are four times more likely to die in a car crash if you’re not wearing a seatbelt and children are not excluded from this horrifying statistic.
“Children will sometimes try to fight against travelling in a car seat but it is important to persevere or get help and never allow your child to travel without being safely strapped in.”