Consumer research for older and disabled people

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Children with learning disabilities in the car

Woman attaching a seat harness
Attaching a five-point security harness

Children who behave disruptively can be distressing or even dangerous in the car. They may distract the driver's attention by making a lot of noise or with other behaviour. Some children may undo their seat belt and move around inside the car, or even attempt to get out.

There are a number of techniques and products that can make travelling less stressful for both driver and passenger:

  • Make sure the child is comfortable and feels secure. Different children have different triggers and comforters, so you'll know best what works for your child.
  • If your child needs attention or reassurance while you're driving, then they may be better in the front, though in some cases this will just be more distracting. Some children like to travel in the third row, where they can have more space.
  • Child locks on the back doors prevent the child from opening the door from the inside. Some children may learn to operate the lock themselves, so double check it's still on.

product table - specialist harnesses

  • There are locking covers you can fit to the seat-belt buckle to stop the child from being able to undo the belt, or you can get a full harness with a locking buckle. Mostly, these work by simply needing strength and dexterity to open but there are some with magnetic or mechanical keys if your child is particularly strong or ingenious. We've produced a table that shows the available specialist child harnesses, with information about features, prices and suppliers - see Rica specialist harness table (PDF).
  • Remap has developed a screen to put between the back seats to stop children from disturbing each other.
Warning: If you're using a locking seat-belt buckle, you should carry a seat-belt cutter in the car in case of emergencies. You should also display an explanatory sticker for emergency services or other rescuers.

Last updated: December 2012

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