There have been many reports regarding the new stricter rules which may be coming out about booster cushions and this has caused much confusion.
This proposed change is a new amendment to the current regulation R44 and will only apply to new approved products. This means that parents who currently have booster cushions can legally continue to use them as they have been.
However, if the proposed amendment goes through, this would potentially mean that parents buying new backless booster seats (booster cushions) in 2017 would only be able to use them for children above 125cm in height and 22kg in weight.
It has not actually been confirmed that a new addition to the child car seat regulations will be coming into effect in December 2016.
Currently, it is in discussions and yet to be voted on. However, there is only one more stage of approval to go through and is unlikely to get rejected at that stage.
There are currently two child car seat regulations running alongside each other – R44.04, which are the weight based car seats, and R129, which is a new regulation.
R129 is making seats easier to choose, fit and use. However, R44.04 weight based approved seats will still be sold, legal and safe for some years to come. One of the key features of R44 is that child seats are chosen based on weight:
Group 0+ (infant seats) – 0 to 13kg
Group 1 (toddler seats) – 9kg to 18kg
Group 2,3 (Booster seats) – 15kg to 36kg
Part of the problem with R44, is that children tend to be moved up a stage as soon as they reach the minimum weight limit for the next stage, when it is actually safer for them to stay in each stage seat until they reach the maximum weight limit for their current stage. A step up in group stage is a step down in safety.
R44.04 currently allows boosters, even booster cushions, to be approved from 15kg – this can legally be a child as young as 2 years or less! While the weight limit is the main factor, there are also height considerations to take into account. A child can be 15kg in weight, yet still be far too small to use a booster.
Children's bones are very different from adults, and their hips and pelvis are very small and set far back. The hips and pelvis are what helps to keep a seat belt in place, and absorb energy. These bones are not really strong enough for a seat belt until a child is around 4 years of age. There are 25kg harness limit seats for children who reach the 18kg harness weight limit at a young age.
Children under 125cm in height and 22kg weight will not be allowed to use a newly type approved (R44.04 supplement 11) booster cushion, but can still use booster cushions that were approved prior to this change after December 2016, if the proposed amendment is approved. They will have to use a high back booster.
We always recommend that children travel in the high back booster if they are the correct weight and height for it, and fit comfortably within the headrest. A high back booster provides additional head, neck and torso protection.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
**UPDATE** Legislation review has been postponed to 2017, Good Egg Safety is awaiting an official response from DFT.
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