Child Seat fitting in taxis, mini cabs and private hire vehicles

It is critically important to ensure your children are safe and secure when travelling in a pre-booked private hire car. I have created this short blog article to highlight the relevance of taxi companies and their duty of care in this area. This will hopefully provide some guidance on how a parent, guardian or carer can make sure when booking a taxi, that the young people in the car are protected, safe and happy.

Not every taxi, mini cab or private hire company or even sole driver provides for the transport of minors, in this case I am referring to children under 12 years old. It is not unsurprising that in some cases parents are therefore either prevented from using a competitive taxi service or are unaware of the law concerning child restraints in the UK.

ACRE Cars based in Hoddesdon has addressed this quandary by investing in several brand new child seats for their pre-booked taxis which are available for use free of charge to customers who inform the ACRE Cars office when making a car booking, that they are required.

I should point out availability is reserved for longer distance taxi bookings (20 miles or over) and booked 24 hours in advance, typically for airports, sea ports, major train stations and day trips to the coast for example. Customers are encouraged and are very welcome to use their own booster seats for older children and their own child seats.

I have conducted some of my own research in the area of child seats in taxi’s and by no means am I an authority on the subject so please do check these comments for yourself, however you may find this information useful when considering booking a local taxi or car service for personal use.

Child Seat Law

All children under 12 years’ old and under 135cm in height must use an appropriate child restraint when travelling in any car.

Since September 2006 all children under the age of three years must use an appropriate child restraint when travelling in a car except in the rear of a taxi if a child seat is not available! This sounds rather crazy and unsafe!

Children aged three or over and up to 135cm in height must use an appropriate child restraint.

We at ACRE Cars believe and recommend especially for long journeys such as for airport transfers, shopping trips to for example Bluewater or London require the use of a child seat for each passenger under the age of 4 and who is under the height of 135cm.

Some other points to note are rear facing baby seats must not be used in seats with front airbags unless they are deactivated. Establishing which airbags are deactivated in a car you are unfamiliar with can be tricky.

If your child is under three years it is a legal requirement that a correct child restraint is used in the front seat.

Child seats must be approved to UN ECE Reg 44.03 or a later standard i.e. 44.04 etc.

However from April 2015 child seats may also be approved to regulation 129 (i-Size).

The taxi driver is responsible for seat belt wearing and restraint use.

I simply consulted the AA motoring website for this information and much more.

What ACRE Cars offer

The child seats ACRE Cars currently offer to our young customers taking taxi rides to the airport and other significant journeys are the DUO PLUS by britax römer. This is a group 1 seat designed for 9 months to 4 years, 9kg to 18kg. This child seat is compatible with ISOFIX or any 3 point seat belt installation.

This child seat features the britax Pivot Link System designed to reduce frontal movement in the event of an accident.

Our drivers are highly experienced so we don’t expect there to be an accident, but you cannot always account for other road users, which is why we recommend the use of child seats where possible especially on longer journeys to places such as to and from the airport.

You can always bring your own child seat or booster seat of course that work with seat belts or the ISOFIX system (consult your child seat user instructions to confirm compatibility with the car if you choose to do this).

Some road accident facts

Again the AA provide some information on road accidents and their prevention. Around 5,000 children under the age of 16 die or are seriously injured on Britain’s roads every year.

According to the AA a child from a lower income family is five times more likely than a higher income family to be killed on the road. They do say exactly why this is the case is not understood.

In 2001, 185 children under the age of five died or were seriously injured while travelling in a passenger car. Children who are sitting in the right child seat for their size, in the rear of the vehicle, which are fitted properly, usually suffer only minor injuries in a car crash.

Around half of all child seats are not properly fitted.

How to ensure a child seat is properly fitted

The AA motoring website mentions DUO PLUS britax child seats and provides a web link for the child seat. The DUO PLUS is compatible with ISOFIX fastening, ISOFIX fastening and top tether anchorage and without ISOFIX fastening.

Your taxi driver will fit the britax DUO PLUS child seat you have requested from ACRE Cars, however if you wish to check the installation is correct you can use these easy points.

Ensure the ISOFIX fastening points of the child seat insertion guides are clipped to the upward pointing ISOFIX fastening points found between the backrest and seat of the rear passenger seat.

The green handle on the back of the seat is used to pull the connectors as far as they will go. When the ISOFIX locking arms are inserted into the clips you will hear a CLICK! The green safety button on both sides of the seat must be now visible. Pull both sides of the seat to check the seat is positioned firmly.

The DUO PLUS is also compatible with non ISOFIX cars however these are few and far between and the seat belt is not required for compatible ISOFIX cars and child seats.

The shoulder belts of the child seat are best adjusted before the child seat is installed and should run at shoulder height or a little above. The shoulder belts must not run behind the back of the child or at ear height or above the ears.

Your ACRE Cars driver will setup the shoulder belt heights correctly with you.When the tongues of the buckle are put together and inserted into the buckle an audible CLICK is heard.

To tighten the harness pull the belt end in the middle front bottom of the child seat towards you. The buckle and straps should lie close to the body of the child.

In summary

  • Check that the child seat is firmly installed in the vehicle
  • The seat shell with the connectors is engaged in the ISOFIX fastening on both sides
  • The belts of the child seat are close to the body, without restricting the child
  • The shoulder belts are adjusted correctly
  • The shoulder pads lie correctly on the child’s body
  • The belts are not twisted
  • The buckle tongues lock in the buckle housing
  • Check the child is secure and of course happy!

ACRE Cars is a competitive pre-booked taxi service. Our rates to airports and collection from airports and other transport hubs are extremely competitive to any other taxi or mini cab company running similar services and ACRE also includes free of charge hire of a child safety seat for each child passenger under four years and under the height of 135 cm.

We pick up customers locally from Hoddesdon, Broxbourne, Wormley, Cheshunt and London as well as Nazeing, Stanstead Abbotts, Ware, Hertford, Hertford Heath, Hailey and Harlow and all other neighbouring towns and villages. Popular airport taxi transfers include Stansted Airport, Heathrow Airport, Gatwick Airport, Southend Airport, Luton Airport and London City Airport. Sea Port transfers and major train stations including Victoria, Kings Cross St Pancras, Stratford Ebbsfleet and Ashford.

The views in this blog article are my own and based on my own research using the internet and not that of ACRE Cars or ACRE group, to highlight the importance of using a properly fitted car child seat for children up to the age of four when travelling using a pre-booked car hire, taxi or mini cab service.