As (I hope!) most of you know very well, in Ireland it is the law that seat-belts must be worn at all times when driving. However, in recent years there have been some changes to the laws regarding road-user safety, in particular with regard to children travelling in vehicles. Forewarned is forearmed as they say, so here’s the lowdown on the current legal requirements in Ireland when you’ve got children travelling with you in the car (bear in mind that there is an additional onus on drivers to ensure that persons under 17 travelling with them are suitably restrained – it’s your responsibility to make sure your passengers are safe!)
Babies and young children
Irish law says that any baby or child aged under 3 is not allowed to travel in a car or goods vehicle (aside from taxis) unless they are restrained in an appropriate child restraint. A child restraint is considered any device that’s designed for use by a child weighing 36 kg or less (or a child aged under of 11/12 years). The restraint is fitted directly to a suitable belt or is held in place by the action of a safety belt (so a booster seat where appropriate (and by appropriate they mean appropriate to the weight of the child).
For older kids (3-17 years)
Anyone aged 12 years or older who is less than 150 cm tall is not required to use a seatbelt, even if provided, but they must use the appropriate child restraint when travelling in a cars fitted with seat-belts. They are of course free to wear the belt (but anyone shorter than 150cm is not withing the limits of safety belt designs, so there is a risk that seat-belts could be dangerous). Consequently, the law permits them to choose whether or not to belt up. This applies in the front and back of the car. For anyone above this height, normal seat-belt requirements still hold.
So, be safe and belt up! You can find out more information on this topic on the Road Safety Authority’s website. Don’t say you weren’t warned!
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