A shocked car passenger has released an image of a woman sitting in the front seat of a moving car with a baby on her lap.
The snap shows the baby, dressed in a pink jacket, facing the woman while the driver makes an obscene gesture to the photographer.
The image, taken on Monday on the A2 Bangor to Belfast Road, has been described as “disgraceful” by motoring groups.
The person who took the picture, who has asked to remain anonymous, said their attention to drawn to the white Toyota because it was “weaving” across the road as they approached.
They wrote on social media: “An idiot driving with girl beside him with a baby in her arms, weaving in and out. At traffic lights I put down my window and told him the baby should be in a car seat, his response was to give me he fingers. Child abuse!”
Rod Dennis, spokesman for the RAC, said: “These pictures are totally shocking as the baby is at serious risk of injury should anything unexpected happen.
“It’s extremely concerning that in 2017 some people still think this is safe to do. The law has insisted for decades that parents use child car seats in their vehicles for good reason – in the event of an impact they can save lives.
“It doesn’t matter how short or long the car trip is, the risk is just the same. The only safe place for a child in a moving car is in a properly-fitted car seat. And if it has to be fitted to the front passenger seat, it is vital that the airbag is switched off.”
Social media users also hit out at the unidentified couple.
Toni Curtis said: “We saw this same car on Saturday going out of Bangor. The baby was on woman’s knee. There was a car seat in back so I don’t understand why.”
Jenny Mclernon added: “Got to laugh at all the people making excuses for this moron of a mother and father. You wouldn’t be making excuses if the baby went through the front window.”
Ryan William Dempster commented: “Shocking behaviour, selfish. It’s not as if a baby seat costs a fortune. All it takes is someone to pull out in front of them, and well you know the rest. Scumbags.”
Lindsay Cee Cee added: “They should be ashamed of themselves. No matter what the excuse, that is absolutely disgraceful.”
Others defended the pair and pointed out there could have been a reason for their decision.
Victoria S Moore said: “Did anyone consider the possibility that the child may have been seriously sick and being rushed to hospital? Your main aim would be to get the child there as quickly as possible. Although this is no excuse for not strapping the child in safely.”
Noah Ehmke added: “What if they were on the way to the hospital for the baby and you’re the a** that made it so they didn’t make it there in time?”
A spokesman for the Police Service of Northern Ireland said they had no record of the incident.
In 2008 18-month-old Angel Nguyen was thrown 150ft to her death when the family’s BMW crashed while she was on her mother’s lap while on the M4 near Swindon, Wiltshire.
The toddler had been strapped into a car seat but shortly after her mother took her out to feed her, an under-inflated tyre blew up.