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KEY CRASH PROTECTION FEATURES
Seat belts keep you in your seat if you are involved in a crash, and massively reduce the chance of
serious injury and death. The Department for Transport estimates that front seat belts save more
than 2,200 lives a year. It is also essential that back seat passengers belt up, both for their own
safety and the safety of other vehicle occupants. In a crash an unrestrained back seat passenger can
be thrown forward with enough force to kill the driver or front seat passenger if they hit them.
Drivers are legally obliged to ensure passengers younger than 14 wear seat belts. Drivers can be
fined up to 500 for allowing a child to travel in the vehicle unrestrained. Taxis must have enough
belts for the number of passengers they are licensed to carry and taxi drivers found with seat belts
that don't work could be fined up to 2,500.
For seat belts to protect you: the lap belt should be as low as possible over the hips and the
shoulder belt should be lying on the chest and over the shoulder (or have the lap belt flat on the
thighs and the shoulder strap between the breasts if pregnant) there should not be any slack in the
belt you should never use padding or cushions to improve seat belt comfort they must be in
good working order.
Airbags are designed to cushion a vehicle occupant's head and body from the steering wheel and
other hard objects. They can be fitted in front and to the side of a vehicle occupant. Studies show
that drivers of cars with airbags suffer fewer severe head injuries.
Given the speed and force of an airbag when it inflates, the following safety precautions
are recommended: wear seat belts at all times do not sit too closely to the steering wheel or
dashboard never use rearfacing baby seats in seats with airbags do not let passengers put their
feet on the dashboard tilt your steering wheel downwards so the airbag points to your chest rather
than your head do not lean too close to the door if you have side airbags do not fit seat covers
if air bags are located in the seats read the handbook and follow its advice.
Child restraints include baby seats, child seats, booster seats and cushions. These significantly
reduce injuries to children by keeping them secure in their seats. It takes less than a fifth of a second
for an unrestrained child to fly through a windscreen and die in a crash at only 30mph.
For safety, it is essential that: children under 150cm tall use the appropriate child restraint for
their size and weight the restraints carry the United Nations `E' mark or a BS `Kitemark'
manufacturer's instructions are followed closely when fitting restraints fit tightly into the adult seats
child restraints are new, not second hand.
As of 18 September 2006, the following laws relating to use of child restraints are being
introduced: All children under 3 years old must use an appropriate child restraint when travelling
in a car or goods vehicle (except in a taxi if a child seat is not available)
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Children aged 3 or more years old and up to 135 cms (approx 4 ft 5 inches) in height must
use an appropriate child restraint when travelling in cars or goods vehicles fitted with seat
belts (few exceptions are permitted)
Rearfacing baby seats must not be used in seats with active frontal airbag
All child restraints must conform to modern safety standards, meaning UNECE Regulation