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Children with learning disabilities in the car

Car safety and specialist equipment for children with a learning disability

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, as long as they will not be a distraction to the driver. If you have a seven-seater MPV, 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.
  • Electric windows can be locked by the driver and manual window winders can have the handle removed.
  • 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.
  • You can find out more about the available specialist child harnesses, with information about features, prices and suppliers, in our specialist harness table (PDF).
  • When using any seat belt locking device or harness, you MUST carry a seat belt cutter in the vehicle and have window stickers in place to show where you keep it - to be used in the event of an emergency.
  • Remap has developed a screen to put between the back seats to stop children from disturbing each other.
  • Driver Shields manufacture shields to protect the driver from interference from back seat passengers.


If you're using a locking seat-belt buckle, you must carry a seat-belt cutter in the car in case of emergencies. You must also display an explanatory sticker for emergency services or other rescuers.

The Research Institute for Disabled Consumersis the UK’s leading expert in user-centred research involving disabled and older consumers. We have over 50 years’ experience of independent, specialist research.
This information is unbiased and we hope it will help you choose the right option to meet your needs. We don't sell products.

Last updated: August 2018

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