Today a new car seat law comes into force in the UK. Which is interesting since no one probably really knew what the old car seat law was, if there was one?
Firstly I see the point, yes child safety is paramount. However, I can already hear the cacophony of tantrums this morning around the UK as most kids who stopped sitting in a babyseat, as they will perceive it, around the age of 6 or 7, ie in their 2nd year at primary school are wedged back into one to go to their primary 6 or 7, or even for the most unfortunate among them, their first year at highschool class this morning! (Yes, I think 12 is a bit over the top!) I am lucky in so much as Charlotte still uses hers so no tantrum there and Marcel is 9 but 1m39, phew because he had informed me he would quite literally rather die than use one! But as one of the tallest in his class, I guess he'll be comforting a good few friends this morning.
The problem I see it is the lack of consistency across Europe. I often drive in both France and Germany, often on the same day hopping backwards and forwards across the border. I rang ahead to Avis in Hahn last time and asked which seats I'd need to fly over with me - the guy said one for Léon, one for Charlotte but Marcel could sit in the car. Believe me when you are flying alone with 3 kids and luggage, you want to fly over as few carseats as you can get away with! At the desk when I arrived they were unsure whether Marcel needed a seat or not so I drove off with 2 on seats, one not. At the French border again there were no signs, no instructions, but my sister-in-law (a childless 50-something - so who knows if she is right or not!) seemed to be under the impression they should all have one and that Marcel wasn't allowed to sit in the front till he was 12. In the UK you can sit in the front from 3 on a booster, from 12 or 135cm without and you can go in the front in a newborn <9kg carrier.
Can't they just publish a list of rules somewhere which are the same in all EU countries to stop us poor unwitting parents who drive around not knowing what the law is or who to ask to get the right answer?
An aside: I actually remember hiring a car in Barcelona when Charlotte was a baby (before I realized you were charged more than a seat cost to hire one for a week) so I asked to hire a car and a babyseat - Here's the car they said - the babyseats are in that hut over there - you can have one if there are any in stock! ...and if there aren't? I guess my 1 year old can rattle up and down the back seat all the way from Barcelona to Perpignan, where I was driving, I guess!