Safety experts claim that between 50-70% of children are incorrectly restrained whilst travelling in a car. This isn’t just down to parents incorrectly fitting their child’s car seat; there are many reasons for this!
1. The car seat being incorrectly fitted
2. The car seat being correctly fitted, but the child not being safely secured into the seat
3. The car seat not being compatible with the car
4. The car seat not being the correct size for the child’s age
5. There is no car seat fitted
So what do parents need to know?
In March this year, the law changed in relation to child booster seats. This change meant that booster seats were outlawed for children shorter than 125cms and weighing less than 22kg (younger than approx. 7 years old). The law regarding child car seats states that children must use them until they are either 12-years old or 135cm (4ft 4) tall, whichever comes first.
Parents are often so confused as to which car seat is right for their child, their car and how they can ensure that the car seat is fitted safely and securely. There are a number of reputable retailers, who will be able to advise you on the right car seat for your child’s age. These retailers often have trained fitters who will check that the car seat is compatible with your car and will fit it for you, often for free.
Spot checks on cars revealed that over a third of car seats are incorrectly fitted, with a large proportion of these considered to be ‘dangerously fitted’. Other errors found were incorrectly positioned harnesses, harnesses that were twisted or too loose, misuse of car head restraints, incorrect use of seat belts and children being too big or small for the seat being used.
There are a number of things that you can do to ensure that your child is as safe as possible whilst travelling in their car seat:
1. Seek advice from a reputable retailer on the correct car seat for your child’s age, height, weight, and compatibility with your car.
2. Ask a reputable retailer to fit the seat for you and show you how to safely secure your child into the seat.
3. Avoid putting your child into a car seat wearing any bulky items such as winter coats or body warmers. These create a much bigger gap between the straps and your child’s chest, meaning that your child could become free from their car seat in the event of an accident.
4. Avoid buying second-hand car seats unless you know the full history. If a seat has been involved in an accident, it could have become weakened.
5. Be aware of the laws surrounding child car seats, and try to make sure you adhere to these, to ensure that your child is travelling as safely as possible.
If you are unsure of the rules surrounding child car seats, you should visit the government website here which outlines these.
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