3 child car seats, the law and Halfords!

Hello all,
I've been reading up on all of the forums I can find regading fitting 3 car seats in the back of my car.

My husband and I have just returned (very disappointed!) from Halfords, having been told that we need to buy a new car. I have 2 children already who have just turned 3 and 2, and am 8 months pregnant with baby number 3 (yes, I know I'm mad!!)
My oldest is just big enough for a high backed booster seat, and we already have a Graco 1,2,3 for each of them.
The lady in Halfords has told me that the law states I can put my oldest in without a car seat, but I've already read up on this and know it's only for emergency travel. She has also advised that because I can't switch off the airbag in the front seat (we have a Ford Focus), I am not allowed to put any of my children in the front. I know I won't be able to put the new baby in the front, but would this be the case for my other 2 children aswell?
Any help or advise would be greatly appreciated - I would rather not buy a new car yet, as we can't afford it!
Many thanks,


  • I'm not an expert but I think she might be wrong on a couple of things. Firstly you can allow a child to travel without a seat if one won't fit due to you already having two seats in place, this applies for all journeys not just emergencys. Obviously this only applies if the children are sitting in the seats so if for any reason you only had two of them with you they would both need to be in seats.
    Secondly I think you can use a forward facing seat on a seat that has an airbag, but the advice is to push the seat back as far as possible. I think I read that in my cars manual so worth having a look.
    I also seem to remember a reading a post on here about someone on here having an airbag switch retro fitted to their Ford so it might be worth speaking to your local dealer as well.
    Good luck, hope you get it sorted
    Kerry xx
  • Just found this site http://www.childcarseats.org.uk/law/fromseptember06.htm#over3upto12 which explains the current law.
    Looks like I was right!! :\)
  • I agree with bedhead, You can let the eldest one travel with out a car seat if there are already 2 seats in use in the back of the car, as for airbags it is only rear facing car seats that they need to be turned off for so you can put you eldest in the front in a forward facing seat.
  • I have a Ford Focus and paid ??167 to have the switch fitted to turn off the airbag.... expensive for what it was.. but cheaper than a new car!!
  • Thank you for the link re laws on car seats, it's very useful.

    My son is in a rear facing car seat and my daughter in a high back harnessed booster seat and my other daughter who is 7 either sits at the back between the other two with a proper seat belt but no booster seat because there is no room for one or she sits in the front seat with her booster and the seat pushed right back.

    Thank you.

    Leila x
  • Hi,

    I am a gold trainer child seat fitter for halfords, my training was authorised by RoSPA.
    First of all, i am sorry that you had a poor experience at your local Halfords:\(, and i can assure you, we are not all like that.
    I hope you find the folliwing info helpful:\)
    RoSPA advises that you do not put a forward facing child seat in the front unless there is no other choice, if this is the case, they recommend that the seat is as farback as possible, the seat is securely fitted and the child is securely held in by a 3 point harness or seat belt, keeping the child as far from the dashboard as poss. They also advise that a child under 1.5m in height should not sit on the front seat with an adult belt if an airbag is fitted as they are not big enough to take the impact of an air bag deployment..
    Re. placing all children in car, it is recommended that the newborn is placed behind the passenger seat, your 2 yr behind the drivers, and your eldest in the front if you can deactivate the airbag.,
    And Karen you are correct about the only time a child can travel without a seat is only in an emergency, ie hospital/doctors, no other time is allowed.
    Can i also mention to all parents, PLEASE do not buy second hand, as you do not know if this seat has been involved in a accident or been dropped on a hard surface as there may be an hidden airline crack.
    Good luck with your 3rd.:\)
  • This is the current law on car seats

    Children under 3 years old
    Correct child restraint (car seat) MUST be used
    If one is not available in a taxi, then the child may travel unrestrained in the rear

    Children aged 3 and above, until they reach EITHER their 12th birthday OR 135cm in height
    Where seat belts fitted, correct child restraint (car seat) MUST be used

    MUST use adult belt if the correct child restraint is not available in three scenarios:

    - in a in a licensed taxi or private hire vehicle ;
    - for a short distance for reason of unexpected necessity;
    - two occupied child restraints prevent fitment of a third.

    In addition, a child 3 and over may travel unrestrained in the rear seat of a vehicle if seat belts are not available

    Therefore the lady you spoke to in Halfords was right, you can put your eldest in without a car seat if you cannot fit it although it would be preferable for him/her to be in a booster or high back booster.
  • Hi again,
    I would also like to add, it also now goes by weight rather than age now.;\)
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