PARENTS are being reminded of the laws surrounding child car seats after a mum in the front passenger seat was spotted with her three-year-old child on her knee.

North West Motorway police officers said the driver had been issued with a TOR (Traffic Offence Report) after stopping the vehicle on the M6 in Cheshire.

Drivers can be fined up to £500 if a child under 14 isn’t in the correct car seat or wearing a seat belt while you’re driving.

A Cheshire Police spokesman added: "There is still a lack of knowledge of whether children should be in a car seat or not.

"It is the driver's responsibility to ensure children in particular are seated correctly so that they are safe and legal.

"Drivers will be prosecuted no matter how short the distance may be."

What does the law say?

Children must normally use a child car seat until they’re 12 years old or 135 centimetres tall, whichever comes first.

Children over 12 or more than 135cm tall must wear a seat belt.

You can choose a child car seat based on your child’s height or weight.

Motorists must make sure that any children in the vehicle you’re driving are:

  • in the correct car seat for their height or weight until they reach 135 centimetres tall or their 12th birthday, whichever is first
  • wearing a seat belt if they’re 12 or 13 years old, or younger and over 135cm tall

Are there any situations where a child can travel without a car seat?

A child aged 3 or older can travel in a back seat without a child car seat and without a seat belt if the vehicle doesn’t have one.

In most cases, children under 3 must always be in a child car seat.

The rules are different if:

  • the child is in a taxi or minicab
  • the child is in a minibus, coach or van
  • the child is on an unexpected journey, for example an emergency
  • there’s no room for another car seat

What if it was an emergency?

If the correct child car seat isn’t available, a child aged 3 or older can use an adult seat belt if the journey is all of the following:

  • unexpected
  • necessary
  • over a short distance

You can’t take children under 3 on an unexpected journey in a vehicle without the correct child car seat, unless both of the following apply:

  • it’s a licensed taxi or minicab
  • the child travels on a rear seat without a seat belt

Is it safe for my child to travel in the front seat?

According to RoSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) it is safer for your child to travel in the rear seats.

Therefore if you have the choice, put your child in a rear passenger seat.

A spokesman added: "If the middle rear seat has a three-point (lap and diagonal) seat belt, this is the safest place to put a child restraint (unless the manufacturer's instructions say it fits better in one of the other seats) because it is the furthest away from the sides of the car.

"If it only has a lap-only belt, check the child restraint instructions to see if it can be fitted with a lap-only belt.

"If not, fit the restraint on either side of the rear seat using the lap and diagonal seat belt."

You can find advice on the best postitions in the car for your child seat by clicking here