14/04/2004

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.

The research forms part of the DfT's THINK! road safety campaign which urges parents to use child car seats or boosters for their children until they are at least 11 years old or 150cm tall – roughly 5 ft.

The move would reduce the risk of injury to children in the event of an accident and is the best way to protect them when travelling by car, the DfT said.

According to a survey of 719 parents and guardians, one-in-10 parents had stopped using child car seats by the time children were three years old; that figure rose to just under two thirds of parents by the time their children were six years or younger. Only 26% of those polled complied with the THINK! campaign's recommendations.

In 2002, 35 children aged 11 and under were killed and 480 seriously injured while travelling in cars.

Parents have also been warn not to use adult seatbelts as they will not fit children properly and will put children at higher risk of injury, in particular to the chest, lungs, abdomen and spine, in comparison to a purpose built child seat.

Road Safety Minister David Jamieson said: "Child restraints play a very important part in keeping children safe inside cars. It is vital that they are fitted correctly and that they continue to be used for as long as is necessary."

Marianne Le Claire, Head of Child Safety Research at TRL (Transport Research Laboratory), said: "Parents can help reduce this risk by taking the time to fit a child car seat or booster seat correctly and making sure their child uses it on every trip."

For more information, visit www.thinkroadsafety.gov.uk or to find out more about the dangers of travelling without safe and appropriate restraints (for both parents and children) visit the THINK! campaign's new web-based simulator at www.thinkseatbelts.com

(gmcg)

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