What is the maximum distance/time that a four to five-year-old child can be strapped into a car/booster seat for?
Research in the USA has indicated that premature and low-birth weight babies can be susceptible to breathing problems if they stay in a baby seat for long periods, but this has not proven to be the case for older children strapped into car/booster seats.
The safest way for children to travel in cars is in a child seat that is suitable for their weight and size. A booster seat elevates your child so that the regular seat belt in the car will fit properly around his or her hips and chest. By the time children weigh 33 to 55lbs (usually about four to six years old) they are ready for a booster seat, but their weight is the most important factor.
For very long journeys, RoSPA would advise that you split the drive up with an overnight stop. At the very least, regular rest breaks (a break of at least 15 minutes after every two hours of driving is recommended) and the sharing of driving are advised. Rest breaks will also give the child a break from the booster seat.
Driving when tired reduces your reaction time, which is a key element of safe driving, and it is a serious problem which results in thousands of road accidents each year.
For advice on planning safer journeys and avoiding driver fatigue see RoSPA’s Safer Journey Planner.