This is the question which has been foremost in my mind on the odd occasion that I’ve hired a taxi with my 3-year-old, usually to the airport and back. At worst it feels totally illegal or at least as if we’re being negligent parents but where does the liability lie?
Surely a taxi cannot be exempt from ordinary motoring laws?
Well it seems that they are! The law states that all children must be restrained in the correct car seat for their age and weight however there are exemptions.
For children under 3, if a child car seat is not available in a licensed taxi or licensed private hire car, the child may travel unrestrained in the rear. This is the only exception for children under 3 years. It was introduced for practical rather than safety reasons.
For children over 3 until the age of 12 or at least 135 cm, the child may just use a seat belt rather than a car seat if the child is:
-In the rear seats of a licensed taxi or private hire vehicle
-Only travelling a short distance and the journey is necessary and unexpected
-Two occupied child restraints in the rear prevent a third one being fitted
Children aged 12 or 13 must use the seat belts provided
It is the driver’s legal responsibility to ensure that the child is correctly restrained until the child is 14 when liability passes to the passenger. The fixed penalty for failing to wear a seat belt as a driver or passenger is a £100 fine. If the case is taken to court, you could face a fine of up to £500. As a driver, if you are convicted of failing to ensure that a child passenger is using an appropriate child car seat or wearing a seat belt according to the legal requirements described above, the fixed penalty is a £100 fine. If the case is taken to court, you could face a fine of up to £500. Unlike for more serious offences such as speeding, careless driving or using a mobile phone whilst driving, failing to ensure a child is correctly restrained does not carry penalty points. However, if the car is being driven in such a way that it could cause danger (for example if there are too many children in the vehicle resulting in it being overloaded) this could amount to driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition which normally carries 3 penalty points.
In addition to the legal penalties, failure to wear a seat belt or failure to ensure that a child passenger uses an appropriate child car seat or wears a seat belt according to the legal requirements described above, could affect any claims against your motor insurance cover.
You could also face civil proceedings for damages, if (for example) you failed to safely carry someone else’s child.
For free advice and legal representation, please call us for free on 0800 4334 678