Hi there, I’m Lisa Scott and I’m the Road Safety Officer for Halton Borough Council, and I’m here today on behalf of SafeKids.co.uk to talk about the problems with car seats, positions of car seats and various problems associated with car seats and child travelling in cars.
Research shows that a high proportion of child car seats are incorrectly fitted for a variety of reasons, and I’m just going to talk about some of the common problems that we see through-out the area.
First of all, if a child is too big or too small for the car seat, a child seat is actually designed for specific age ranges and weight ranges, and it is important when you have a child in a car seat that the car seat is appropriate for that child, and more importantly appropriate for the weight of the child.
Another issue is when car seats are too loose, and when checking a car seat if there is a lot of lateral movement and sideways movement, then that car seat isn’t correctly fitted. Likewise, if the base of the car seat or the back of the car seat doesn’t marry up to the vehicles seat, then that again isn’t an appropriate fit.
Not all car seats will fit in all cars. The very nature of car designs changes from year to year and unfortunately we can’t guarantee that every car seat will fit in every car.
When buying a car seat it is important that you try before you buy, and there is an agreement between you and the shop that you can return it if it is not a satisfactory fit. If the car seat moves too much, if it doesn’t fit with the back and the seat of the actual vehicle seat, then it isn’t fitted correctly.
There are also problems that we see with the actual car seat belt, where it won’t go around the child’s car seat and this is often found in some vehicles where the car seat belt is too short. Like I said, unfortunately not every car seat will fit in every car and it is important that you try before you buy.
Another one with regards to fitting is when the buckle of the car seat belt impacts onto the frame of the child car seat, and this is in particular to the reference to the forwards-facing seat, perhaps with a plastic frame or a metal frame. It is important that the car seat belt doesn’t compact anywhere onto the frame of the seat. This is what we call buckle crunching and in a crash it could just explode the fitting/fixing and it wouldn’t be protecting the child.
Another issue is with regards to missing instructions and what I would advise if you purchase a car seat that you keep the instructions in the car seat or in the glove box. With regards to car seats that are second hand or passed down they may not always be instructions but they should be printed on the car seat itself. If you do acquire a second hand car seat unfortunately the safety of that car seat cannot be guaranteed unless you know the full history of that car seat.
Another problem is with regards to children undoing the car seat, pressing the red button and undoing the harness or the seat belt. It particularly worrying and distracting when you are driving and obviously there may be times when you have to pull over and put the child back in the harness.
A lot of people ask why can’t it be changed into a particular colour. The red colour is there for a specific reason – It is there for a emergency release system and it has to be easily identifiable by the emergency services – but obviously it is also attractive to children.
What I would suggest is a few simple distractions toys, books, talking to your child, playing simple games like eye spy, looking out of the window and thankfully it just seems to be a phase in most cases.