Poorly fitted child car seats costs dozens of lives a year: report

Around two thirds of all child seats are fitted incorrectly and basic mistakes by adults when fitting child seats can kill and injure hundreds of children a year, even in low speed crashes, a report by the AA Motoring Trust has claimed.

The report found that tests carried out at just 19mph with seats that had been fitted incorrectly produced results which would have seriously injured any child sitting in them.

The tests were carried out by experts from the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) at the Britax test facility in Andover, Hampshire, using child dummies sitting in child restraints. The seats were deliberately installed incorrectly to illustrate the consequences of misfitting.

The research simulated various misfitting scenarios all based on real-life accidents where children had been killed or seriously injured.

One test replicated a crash where a boy was killed by massive internal injuries when the car in which he was travelling skidded and hit a tree. He died because he wasn't wearing his seat belt properly. The adult belt was uncomfortable, so his parents routed the diagonal strap behind his back and left the lap belt lying across his tummy. When the car crashed his body jack-knifed causing massive internal injuries.

Every year over 100,000 children are involved in crashes where it is crucial how well the child seat is fitted, the motoring group said. Most children receive little more than a jolt or a shock, but 10,000 are hurt, with 670 seriously injured and 30 killed.

In some cases the child had been completely unrestrained, but in others the child was sitting in a poorly-fitted seat.

Andrew Howard, Head of Road Safety at The AA Motoring Trust, said: "Fitting a child seat incorrectly is a serious issue and one that parents or childminders must not ignore.

"Sometimes parents make mistakes fitting seats, sometimes they take short cuts or make compromises in how they are worn in an effort to keep children quiet. Using a child seat is not always straightforward and parents need to invest time in checking the seat is fitted properly before setting out on every journey."

The report will made be available online at www.AAtrust.com , and 30,000 booklets will also be distributed with the information during this year.


Related UK National News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

27 February 2006
New seat belt rules announced
The government has announced proposed new regulations concerning the use of seat belts and child restraints. The new regulations require the use of an appropriate restraint in any car or goods vehicle for all children less than three years of age.
05 June 2003
Report finds many child car seats inadequate in severe crash
A report commissioned by European consumer groups has found that many car seats are inadequate to deal with a serious car crash, as the statutory EU tests are not sufficiently rigorous. In a test of 20 child car seats, the consumer group report revealed that only a few were deemed good enough to be recommended as adequate in a 40mph crash.
28 January 2009
Consultation To End Child Poverty, Launched
The Government has today set out plans to make sure every child gets the best start in life by tackling child poverty, which can unfairly hold children back and prevent them reaching their full potential.
18 September 2006
New laws on child car seats comes into force
New laws requiring more children to use child car restraints have come into force today. Under the new legislation, children aged under 12 who also measure less than 135cm - 4ft 5in - will have to use the right child restraint when travelling in cars, vans and good vehicles.
14 April 2004
Lack of proper car seats puts children at risk, DfT
Thousands of children are being put in unnecessary danger as many parents are still not using the appropriate car seats, new research from the Department for Transport (DfT) has found.