Thursday, September 14, 2006

Car Seat Law "Chaotic" - Gale

North Thanet's MP, Roger Gale, has this morning described as "chaotic" the Government's new child seat laws due to come into force next week. Speaking in his constituency the MP said:

"Like many ideas that start with the best of intentions this has been allowed by bureaucrats to get out of hand.  Of course parents and family want to protect children in cars but laws have to be sensible and enforceable.  It is weeks since motoring and other organisations flagged up the bewildering complexity of the Government's proposals but nothing has been done to kick some sense into the regulations.

This morning Dr. Ladyman, the Transport Minister, has said that "the rules are a little confusing"!

Apart from creating a bonanza for the Government's retail  "partners" in this exercise it is clear that it is going to cause misunderstanding and possibly friction between motorists and police.

Under age 3 (why 3?) a child has to be in a specialist car seat. That is just about straightforward although it takes no account of weight.

Between 3 and 12, or until the child reaches 4`5" (which also takes no account of size and weight) a child will have to be in an "appropriate" but undefined "child restraint".  This is a nanny-state recipe that could have been designed by Mr. Blair or Patricia Hewitt! It takes some account of (again undefined) "emergencies" but no account of the thousands of motorists who make occasionally take a child on a short journey.

The police (who of course have nothing better to do) will be required to check to see if a child is under 12.  So it's alright for a small thirteen year old to be on the loose in a car but a heavy 4`4" eleven year old will be in "an appropriate child restraint".!

Those of us who are old enough to remember Conservative governments recall the famous "cones hotline". This is a law that is designed to secure for the Minister of State for Transport a place in motoring history as "the first Minister for appropriate child restraint"!


Nethercourt said...

Just another example of the 'bright idea' form of 'professional' management we are cursed with nowadays. Never think a course of action through do they....

Mr Friday said...

This will be a complete "white elephant" law just like that governing the use of mobile phones whilst driving.

Laws are ultimately pointless if there isn't the associated enforcement action. You are right in saying the Police will not be remotely interested in enforcing this so, ultimately, people will simply ignore it - again, just like the mobile phone laws.

Anonymous said...

When the French see a piece of legislation as ill tthought out and as confusing as this, they ignore the 'regulations. We should do like-wise. I hope a Conservative Govt would repeal this nonsense.

Anonymous said...

So Mr. Friday you are saying that you think it is ok to drive while talking with your mobile phone clamped to your ear,,,or even worse texting,,and presumably you also think its alright for young children to be loose in a car when it ploughs into another one because the driver is busy on the phone,,,,,,,,,,,,
If I remember when the drink driving laws came into effect there were also a lot of people ignoring that as well,,over time prosecutions happened and eventually drink driving became socially unacceptable consequently less loss of life,,,,,the same thing is happening with mobile phone use while driving,people still do it but less and less,the same thing will happen with this piece of legislation once people have worked it out,,
even Stephen Ladyman has admmited that they are a 'bit confusing'


Mr Friday said...

I think you have missed the point I am trying to make.

Of course I am not saying that both of these laws are without merit. Indeed, nothing irritates me more than seeing drivers openingly flouting the law and using their phones. Also, as a parent with a young child it makes perfect sense to make sure they are well protected in the car.

What I am saying however is that without the Police enforcing these laws, they are effectively pointless. The Police have certainly enforced the drink-driving laws and stiff sentences are handed out - but I do not see the same thing happening with laws relating to using phones whilst driving and can't see the Police putting much effort into checking to see if car seats are of the prescribed standard either.

Drink-driving has been handled well by the Authorities as it seems to have become socially unacceptable as well as illegal. The same thing simply cannot be said of other offences.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Mr. Friday was condoning mobile phone use whilst driving, nor advocating kids should be unrestrained in a moving car. I believe that he was making the valid point that there are too few traffic officers to police this new law. As a frequent road user, I lose count of the number of idiots I see using mobile phones whilst driving, and can honestly say that I have yet to see any reports of people being prosecuted for this offence. Certainly I have not seen any exercises mounted to stop illegal use of mobiles, similar to that mounted for drink driving or tax disk offences. I believe that the police will also be too busy to tackle this new seat belt law with any conviction, no pun intended. They will probably be clearing up accidents caused by the fools driving whilst using a mobile. Jammy Dodger - Birchington

Mr Pink said...

Observer- I think you are missing the point of Mr Fridays post - he is not saying it is ok to have kids loose in the car , or indeed that it is okay to talk or text on the phone whilst driving. The point that he is making is that these laws are poorly thought out and will be extremely difficult to enforce. I beg to differ with you about mobile phones and driving becoming socially unacceptable - I see it several times a day and it has been a while now since that law was introduced. This government is very good at churning out rubbish legislation. It is almost as if someone is reeling off these new laws into a dictaphone as a reaction to what they are reading in their morning paper! Some things can not be legislated for - the child seat one is an excellent example because of all of the variables each case will present. Fifty pages of rules and regulations would not be better than the common sense and judgement of a decent Policeman, surely.

Mr Friday said...

I actually wrote to Kent Police recently with a "Freedom of Information" request to find out the numbers of people who have been charged with driving whilst using a mobile phone in Kent.

The numbers are generally between 300-400 per month across Kent (no significant fall or rise in the last 12 months) which seems like quite a lot until you then try and calculate the numbers of cars on the road in Kent in any one day.

Anyone else comment on these numbers ? Are they pretty much what people would be expecting ?