Car seat danger: Par­ents play­ing ‘Rus­sian roulette’

Daily Mail - - Life - By Ray Massey Mo­tor­ing Ed­i­tor

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’

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