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CHILD SEAT SAFETY SAFE CARRIAGE OF CHILDREN IN TAXIS/PHVS


We’ve featured articles in past editions of PHTM outlining the current regulation (or lack of it, more like) in respect of child safety in taxis/PHVs. What we’ll do here is to consider those parameters in light of the current situation we find ourselves in, with regard to social distancing, PPE, partition screens in saloon/minibus vehicles… and to ask PHTM readers specifically for your individual, personal feedback as to what options, if any, you have put in place in this regard for children who might be your passengers.


THE LAW AS IT STANDS


UK law dictates that: • a child must use a child car seat until they’re 12 years old or 135cm tall, whichever comes first.


• children over the age of 12 or more than 135cm tall must wear a seat belt.


• a child aged three or older can travel in a back seat with- out a child car seat and without a seat belt if the vehicle doesn’t have one.


TAXIS AND PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLES


If the driver doesn’t provide the correct child car seat, children can travel without one - but only if they travel on a rear seat: • and wear an adult seat belt if they’re three or older • without a seat belt if they’re under three


If the correct child car seat isn’t available, a child aged three or older can use an adult seat belt if the journey is all of the following: • unexpected • necessary • over a short distance


You can’t take children under three on an unexpected journey in a vehicle without the correct child car seat, unless both of the following apply: • it’s a licensed taxi or PHV • the child travels on a rear seat without a seat belt


Evidently a journey in a taxi/PHV is considered both “unex- pected” and “necessary”… but who defines “over a short distance”?


This aspect of safe carriage of children under three years old has perplexed us for over two decades. So the child over three years old can be strapped in; however if there is no car seat provided, the under-threes travel in licensed vehicles unrestrained? This is nothing short of preposterous! What sort of protection is that?!


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And in light of Covid and all the cautionary restrictions, how many parents have not taken the journey in order to prevent the virus spreading amongst the family/passengers, never mind whether the young child is vulnerable in the event of a crash?! What has been your experience in this regard?


WHAT ABOUT BOOSTER SEATS?


Many licensed drivers have told us that they just keep a booster seat in the boot (or in the office, or somewhere in their home) in the event of having to carry a child. But once again, here is where you have to be cautious in light of carrying children in taxis and PHVs.


Selecting the right car seat will give a child the best possible protection in the event of a crash – but you’re also risking a £500 fine if you’re caught using an unsuitable or incorrectly fitted car seat. Bear in mind that – as with private motorists – the driver is responsible for the safe carriage of any and all children under the age of 14.


Previously, children who weighed as little as 15kg could use backless booster seats, but concerns over safety resulted in a change in the law. From March 1 2017, all new-to-market backless booster seats are only approved for children weighing more than 22kg or taller than 125cm.


Please note that the regulations affect newly designed and manufactured booster seats sold after March 1, 2017. The older rules still apply for seats manufactured prior to this.


The point here is: it’s no use just throwing any backless booster seat into the boot of a taxi/PHV for carrying children.


The concept behind strengthening the booster seat regulation is that, in crash tests, it was proven that a backless child seat – with solely an adult seat belt securing the child onto such booster - provides no protection from side impact collisions.


There is a further complication: NPHTA Director Dave Lawrie attended many council and police meetings a few years ago in Rossendale when he was a licensed driver in the district. The subject of the safe carriage of children in taxis/PHVs was raised. Bear in mind that the vast majority of Rossendale licensed vehicles are hackneys, and most do rank work.


Councillors and police stated at the time what a good idea it was for every licensed taxi driver to supply a booster seat for child passengers. As Dave pointed out, in addition to the practical problem of carrying a variety of child seats and boosters required for the full spectrum of children both by height and weight, there was the issue of hygiene.


MAY 2021


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