Back to School Car Safety

 Child car seats, boosters and ‘traveling in the front’ The practicalities and legalities of bringing the kids to school in the car

Back to school brings with it all the mayhem of mornings in busy family households. The search for lost shoes, grabbing lunches and coats and heading into back-to-school traffic for those first days back in the classroom. As parents scabble to gather bags, books and uniforms, it’s a good time to review the travel arrangements for your most precious cargo. A growth spurt in a child’s height over the summer or an extra junior pupil might make the school run a little bit more difficult as space in the car seems to shrink. At Western Motors, we take safety seriously and our experienced staff are always on hand to advise on vehicle upgrades, child seat anchor points and room for the growing family. We have also put together some simple and important facts on the safest way for your younger passengers to travel in the car. 

The Legalities

Irish law dictates that you, the adult, are in charge of the safety of all your passengers under 17. You are actually responsible for the safety of all those who travel with you, but you are legally obliged to ensure that the wee ones in your care are restrained properly before you set off on your journey.  This means that all children under 150 cms in height and/or 36 kgs (79 lbs) in weight should be placed in a child restraint system (CRS) suitable for their height and weight while travelling in a car or goods vehicle (other than a taxi). A child restraint system is just a fancy (or scary) name for a child seat or booster seat, and in general the height and weight requirements refer to a child of approximately 12 yrs of age. All car seats must conform to UN and ECE regulations 44-03, 44-04 or the updated, i-size or Regulation 129 version. They must also be appropriate for the child’s size, and correctly fitted to the vehicle. There is no law against children sitting in their car seat in the front of the car. However, it is illegal to place a rearward-facing baby seat in the front passenger seat. If the air bag deploys it could cause serious injury or be fatal to the child. It is always preferable and advisable to travel with the kiddie’s snug in appropriate seats in the back. An exception is made for taxis, although many parents like to keep a simple car seat handy for occasions where they need to take a taxi. Teenagers will always push the boundaries and will nag for the day when they can sit, unrestrained in the front passenger seat.  Legally, it the young person weighs over 36 kg and is over 4ft 11 inches in height, they can safely sit in the front buckled in with the adult belt. Basically, you must be that height to enjoy that ride!

The Practicalities

You might consider using the toddler/backless booster seat, for your child passengers. These are so handy for the transitions from seat to seat and car to car. This makes them very useful if a number of people are giving regular lifts to children and the seat can be easily moved.This is absolutely fine, once you bear in mind that these boosters can only be used for children weighing over 22kg. And this brings us to the key for purchasing or using all child restraint systems. The weight and height of your small passenger and not their age, determines which car seat to choose. There are of course, an eye watering amount of car seats to choose from, but not every seat is compatible with every car. Take the advice of the sales team in the shop and check for the conforming regulations stickers.  


Some cars have Isofix anchor points installed. Isofix is the international standard for attachment points for child safety seats in passenger cars. The Isofix system fastens the child seat to a base already in the car and there is no need for seat belts. It’s a very rigid and steady system, but not practical if you need to move the car seat from car to car quickly. Look for Isofix labels between the base and back of your car seats or check your vehicle's handbook or contact the manufacturer or dealer to check if your car has been fitted with anchor points.   

Impact shield technology is now being incorporated into child restraint systems and if you are purchasing new, this is probably something you should consider. Impact shields, or safety cushions fasten around the front of the child in the car seat. They act like a pre-inflated airbag and can reduce the strains on your child’s neck, shoulders and head in the unfortunate event of an accident. The impact forces generated during a collision are distributed through the shield and keep the child safer.  

Fitting a Seat

For safety and comfort, all child restraint systems should be fitted and used correctly. The Road Safety Authority report that a worrying amount of car seats are not properly fixed to the car. This includes too much slack on the seat belt (this means that the belt will have little or no, actual restraint), the safety belt routed through the seat incorrectly and an incorrect size  of car seat being used. They also mention parents using a number of car seats used that are not compatible with the car or are in really bad condition. Child car restraints can be fitted in some motor accessory shops and quite often the RSA have pop up events called ‘Check it fits’ where they offer to check, refit and advise on car seats for kids, for free. In general when purchasing, it is wise to choose a retailer who will be able fit child car seats for you, or at least show you how to fit it yourself.

Back to school is a stressful time. Take a few minutes to sort the child carrying situation in your vehicle so that popping them in, strapping them safely before you drive is as easy and as safe as it can possibly be. You will appreciate the comfort and ease as you rush home again for that lost shoe, forgotten lunch or that well earned coffee before you tackle the breakfast dishes. 


Finance Enquiry Form
Fill out the form and a member of our team will we be in touch:
*Denotes required field
Car Grades Explained
95% as new condition/100% as new to drive/ min two year warranty
Less than 50,000 km’s
Thoroughly prepared used car/ excellent mechanical condition/ a minimum of 1 year warranty
Less than 120,000 km’s
Reasonable mechanical and cosmetic condition/ a minimum of 6 months warranty
Less than 150,000 km’s
A Part Exchanged/Trade In – only sold on to Trade
Only applicable to Trade In Self Appraisals – scrapped or sold to Trade where possible

As our Digital Dealership grows we know that more buyer confidence is needed throughout the online buying process and to assist we have introduced the Western Motors Group Used Car Grading System. The system has been devised to offer more transparency to our customers and to provide an easy guide as to the quality of the used car being sold.