Section 15 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 states that the driver of a vehicle is responsible for making sure any child under the age of 14 is restrained in a vehicle correctly. There are then further regulations over use of appropriate child seats determined by a number of factors such as age, height and weight of the child.

So what happens if a child is not restrained properly in a vehicle and you have an accident? The case of Jones v Wilkins was a tragic case where a mother placed her young child on her lap and applied an adult seatbelt over the top. The court applied a 25% reduction for contributory negligence.

One interesting point in Jones v Wilkins was that expert evidence suggested that at that time (the case went to appeal in 2001) the public were not fully aware of the consequences of not appropriately restraining a child in a vehicle. 

Over the past 20 plus years there have been advancements with child seats and safety in vehicles. There are now regulations over the use of child seats. The court did leave open the possibility of applying a greater reduction for contributory negligence in a reckless scenario.

Given the now evident realisation by the public that child seats are now an everyday part of life for children, if a parent did seat a child on their lap today it is possible that a court could deem this reckless enough to warrant more than a 25% reduction for contributory negligence.