Car seat danger: Parents playing ‘Russian roulette’
PARENTS are playing ‘Russian roulette’ with their children’s lives by putting them in poorly fitted car seats, an investigation has exposed.
Only one in seven are both strapped in safely and placed in seats of the right size, according to the assessment.
And an alarming 5 per cent of seats were deemed to be completely unsafe – meaning parents are ‘significantly increasing the risk of death or serious injury to their children’. Half of these seats were removed on the spot during the research.
Motorists judged to be using a seat that is not appropriate for the child’s height or weight also risk a £100 on-the-spot fine.
The most common fault exposed was the harness or seatbelt being too loose, twisted or incorrectly positioned.
The roadside investigation, published this week, was carried out by What Car? magazine, with the support of Leicestershire Police and training specialists Child Seat Safety. They checked 85 seats in 51 cars and found only 36 per cent were fitted correctly.
This figure slumped lower still to just 15 per cent when the age, height and weight of the child were compared with the size of the car seat.
While three-quarters could be immediately corrected on site, four of the car seats were replaced and ‘condemned’ before drivers were allowed back on the road with children.
Special seats must be used until children reach the age of 12 or 4ft 5in in height. All seats with Isofix attachments – which securely plug them into fitting points in the car – were passed as being correctly installed by roadside safety specialists.
What Car? editor Steve Huntingford said unless Isofix seats were used there would continue to be uncertainty over safety.
He said: ‘At best drivers could land themselves with a £100 Fixed Penalty Notice, but at worst they are significantly increasing the risk of death or serious injury to their children. It’s a form of Russian roulette that drivers are playing.’
Mr Huntingford urged parents and carers of children to seek professional advice about fitting car seats, adding: ‘They often go to great lengths to ensure the safety of children in many aspects of daily life, and it is shocking that the proportion of unsafe child restraints in their cars was so high.’
Julie Dagnall, co- director of Child Seat Safety, said: ‘The evidence from this study was that the overwhelming majority of drivers were exposing the children in their cars to significantly increased risk. It is important to raise awareness of this issue.’
Recommend retailers in the What Car? report include Halfords, John Lewis, Mamas and Papas, Mothercare, Toys R Us and ‘ many independent retailers’.
‘Significantly raised risk’