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What are the legal rules surrounding family vehicles?

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When it comes to driving the family around, there are certain legal rules that you should adhere to. This is especially true if you have young children, not just to stay within the law but to keep your children safe when on the roads.

Here are some of the legal rules that surrounds family vehicles:

Child Car Seat Laws

If you have young children then it is important that you are using the correct car seats for their needs. There are lots of confusing laws and exceptions surrounding this situation, but to make it easier for you we’ve simplified it as much as possible.

Essentially, your child must use a car seat until they are 135cm tall or 12 years old – whichever comes first. Once this milestone has been reached, your child must use an adult seat belt. This rule includes children with disabilities, unless a doctor confirms they are exempt on medical grounds.

Children up to 3 years

 All children under 3 must travel in a car seat that faces forwards or rearwards and is properly fitted. The car seat should use a 5-point safety harness to secure your child safely and comfortably. The only exception where a child does not require a car seat is if they are in the rear of a licenced taxi or mini cab.

Under no circumstances should your child be placed in a rear-facing car seat in the front passenger seat if the airbag is active. The child can sit here if it is possible to deactivate the passenger airbag, if not the child should sit in the back seat.

Children 3-12 or under 135cm tall

Children in this bracket must use the correct seat for their size – you can get your car fitted by most big nursery stores or car seat retailers.

There are a few exceptions to this rule, which are:

  • If the journey is unexpected
  • If the journey is necessary but a seat is not available
  • For short distances
  • In a minibus

While it may be legal for your child to not use a car seat on these exceptions, it is not safe and should, therefore, not be regularly undertaken.

                Passengers over 12

At this age, the passenger must wear the adult seat belts in the vehicle. Whereas with children under 12 it is the legal responsibility of the driver to ensure that seatbelts are worn, it legally falls on the passenger if they are over 12. This means that they would bear the responsibility of any fines etc. should the vehicle be pulled over/ involved in a collision.

The penalty for not wearing a seat belt or restraint is a £100 fixed penalty notice.

Number of Passengers

You are only legally allowed to carry as many passengers as the vehicle is registered to hold. For example, a five seater hatchback can hold a driver and four passengers max. That includes children and infants, so you can’t simply put a baby on your lap to have five passengers and a driver. This carries a heavy fine and points on the licence if stopped by the police and is incredibly dangerous.

If you passed your driving test after 1st January 1997 and you have not completed a Passenger carrying Vehicle (PCV) D1 licence then you are not legally allowed to drive a vehicle with more than 8 passenger seats. This is important for large families, or anyone looking to drive a minibus, as driving without a PCV licence can entail fixed fines and points on your licence.

Can You Drive Barefoot?

As a parent’s life can be very hectic so being able to quickly jump into your car and head out is essential. Many people believe that it is illegal to drive barefoot, but this is not true.

Driving barefoot is perfectly legal, provided that you are able to operate the controls safety. So if you’re really in a rush then you can skip shoes in the case of an emergency.

Check out our range of used cars online today to see what bargain you can pick up for yourself to find your perfect family car!

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