Child Car Seat Rules Ireland
Booster seats are designed for children weighing between 15 and 25kgs, and don’t have their own harness. Instead, they raise a child up high enough so that the seatbelt is positioned correctly on his or her body (i.e. on the shoulder, not the neck; and on the pelvis, not the stomach). Many booster seats are designed to be converted into a booster cushion by detaching the back rest, so that may be a good value option.
The RSA holds regular Check It Fits sessions across the country where an expert will examine your car seat to make sure it’s safe and secure. Head to their website to find out about upcoming events and to sign up to their mailing list.
ISOFIX is the industry standard for solid child seat mounting points integrated with a car’s body structure. Not all child seats use ISOFIX mountings, but those that do are easier to correctly fit than those that rely solely on seat belt restraint. Most new cars come with at least two ISOFIX points in the back, though ISOFIX child seats can be a little more expensive and are a lot heavier and bulky. The newer i-Size mountings are compatible with ISOFIX, too.
It is illegal to place a rearward facing baby seat in the front passenger seat of the car where there is an active airbag. There is a three-point penalty for this offence. Many modern cars have an airbag deactivation switch to allow fitment of a baby seat in the front.
Since 1st January 1971, all drivers and anyone occupying a forward facing front seat of any of the vehicles listed above must wear a safety belt or an appropriate child restraint, unless they are exempted. (See "exemptions" below).
Safety belts are designed for people 150cms and taller. Don’t let your child graduate to using just the safety belt too soon. Children are usually big enough to use the safety belt by the time they are about 11 years old. However, this varies from child to child and it’s best to double-check that your child is at least 150cms tall before upgrading them to the belt. Three-point safety belts (lap and diagonal) provide greater protection than lap belts. Make sure to position the diagonal part across the torso from shoulder to pelvis – not across the neck. Lap belts are far better than no belt at all. The lap belt should be placed across the tops of the thighs (from hip-bone to hip-bone), not across the stomach and worn as tight as possible.
A "disabled persons belt" is a safety belt which has been specially designed or adapted for use by someone with a physical disability. Disabled persons belts should only be used by those for whom they are intended.
You’re liable to receive two penalty points and a fine of up to €2,000 if you don’t have children properly restrained in the car. In fact, recent research from the RSA found that 80% of the 5,000 car seats they examined at their Check It Fits sessions were incorrectly fitted – and 150 of the seats were condemned as unsafe, so it’s definitely an area we need to improve on.