The Good Egg Car Safety Blog

What happens at a child car seat checking event?

 

Good Egg Safety is the leading child car seat initiative here in the UK checking more child car seats than any other UK organisation - over 22,000 since our campaign launched in 2001!

We offer free child car seat checking events because we feel that we cannot tell parents their children are in danger from poorly fitted child car seats, yet not offer them a solution!

 

So what happens at a Good Egg child car seat checking event?


Our Good Egg child car seat checking events are always run by a Good Egg Safety Expert.  These are highly trained and dedicated individuals who are able to check a wide range of child car seats.

The checking events normally run 11am - 4pm, although check your local event as times can differ!

The expert arrives early to the event to get set up, and we have a fun height chart for children to measure themselves, as well as a supply of stickers and our FREE Good Egg Guides.  

 

 

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How do we check a car seat?


When we check a car seat, we are checking for 4 things:

 1. That the child seat is compatible with your child

 2. That the child seat is compatible with your car

 3. That the child seat is fitted correctly, either ISOFIX or belt fitment

 4. That the child seat harness or seat belt is used correctly


Finally, we will also give any other useful advice - such as strapping non ISOFIX boosters in when not in use, and the importance of removing puffy clothing.



 

What happens if you've done something wrong?


We strive to ensure that we do not make you feel guilty, or judged if your car seat is incorrectly fitted.  It is very common to see errors on child car seats so it is nothing to feel ashamed about, and you've done the right thing by having your seat checked!

If your car seat is incompatible to your car or child, we clearly explain to you why it is not suitable, and what type of seat is required.  Although this may mean buying a new child car seat, it is not that often that we come across an incompatible seat.

If your child seat is fitted incorrectly, we will explain what the errors are to you, and show you how to put them right.  If your seat needs to be taken out and re-fitted, we will show you how to fit the seat properly, and then ask you to fit it yourself, so you can be fully confident the next time you need to fit your seat.

We also check that your child is strapped in properly, and for this we are ensuring that the harness or seat belt is at the correct height, and that the harness is the correct tension.  If your harness needs adjusting, we are able to show you how to do this.

 

What are the consequences if your seat is found to be incorrectly fitted?


At Good Egg, we always say that it is MUCH better to find an error on your car seat at a checking event, then during a collison.  A car crash would be a very bad time to find that you have an error on your child's car seat!

If you do have an incorrect seat, we will show you how to put it right.

We do not report parents for incorrectly fitted seats - we are more concerned that you are confident to fit the seat correctly in future.

 

 

Having your car seat checked is nothing to worry about, and it may save your child's life.

 

 

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Child car seat features

Buying a new car seat can be very confusing, it can be difficult to figure out which stage seat your child needs, particularly when there may be several suitable stages to choose from.  Not only that, but you also have to make sure the seat fits the cars it will be used in, as well as your child.


Group Stages 2014-01

Once you have figured out what stage seat you require, the choice can still be confusing, with large differences in price and different child car seat features.

This blog looks at those features of a car seat, what they do and why they’re useful.

 

Child car seat features

 

Seat belt or ISOFIX


ISOfixbelt fit

Child seats can come as either belt fitted, or ISOFIX – sometimes they have both options!  While both ISOFIX and seat belt fitment is safe when the seat is correctly fitted, ISOFIX is considered easier to fit and it reduces the risk of incorrect fitment.

 

Seat belt tensioner

 


TOBI tensioner

 

Seat belt restrained seats may have a seat belt tensioner, which will help you to achieve a tight fit.  A slack seat belt is a very common error, so a tensioner is a useful tool to help you ensure the seat is firmly fitted.

 

Support leg or top tether


supportlegtoptether

ISOFIX seats tend to have a third point of anchorage, the first being the ISOFIX attachment itself.  The third point of anchorage can come in the form of a support leg or a top tether.  A support leg is more commonly found, however these generally cannot be used on top of a floor storage box lid.  A top tether attaches to an approved top tether point behind the vehicle seat.

The purpose of the third point of anchorage is to reduce the pivotal movement of the seat and absorb energy in a collision.

 

Head support


head support

 

Some child seats will come with a headrest within the seat and this helps to support the child’s head and neck when they are asleep.

 

Easy adjust or re-thread harness

  

easy adjust

 

An 'easy adjust' car seat harness

 

re thread harness

 

A 're-thread' car seat harness



Seats with an integrated headrest also tend to have the harness attached via the headrest, so to adjust the harness, you simply ‘click’ the headrest up or down to gain the correct height.  Other seats may have a re-thread harness, which requires you to take the harness out of the seat and re-thread it at the desired height, which can be quite time consuming, and also carries the risk of the harness being re-attached incorrectly.

 

Are these features essential?


The features described above are present on many car seats, and  car seats without them are certainly not unsafe or dangerous.  The features are designed to make the child seat simpler to use, so if you are not confident fitting a seat, or changing the harness, they are certainly worth looking at!

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Britax State of Safety Q&A

Our very own Good Egg Safety Expert, Kat, took over the Britax Twitter page last night to hold a Q&A. She received some great questions and you can find the answers below!

Kat


Q: I’d love to know the laws on taxis and car seats.


Kat: Under 3's - no seat required no seat belt. Over 3's - no seat, adult seat belt. Children should be in rear. We would prefer to see seats used whenever possible though!

 

Q: Hi Kat, when is the law coming in for rear facing longer?

Kat: iSize came into effect in July 2013, it's part of R129 and will be fully implemented by 2018. R44 seats are still legal to use.

 

Q: When Picking A Car Seat, Especially One That Will Go Behind The Driver What Is The Best Kind Of Seat To Go For?

Kat: It really depends on your child's weight and height, what car(s) the seat will go into. Britax fit finder is a great tool!



Q: What are your top tips travelling abroad this summer and hiring cars or using local taxis?

Kat: We have a great blog on flying with young children which covers what to do with car seats abroad.

 

Q: My littles one's car seat only goes up to 13kg and he's already 10kg at 6 months lots of bigger ones are forward facing.

Kat: There are combination rear facing car seats available that offer rear facing to 18kg/25kg the Britax Fit Finder tool can help you find a rear facing seat.

 

Q: I know SIDS can occur in car seats. How can I ensure my 7 month old is safe and always breathing on long journeys?

Kat: Always ensure you plan regular breaks into car journeys to give your baby plenty of time to stretch.

 

Q: Is there an easy way to temporarily disable airbags if the child rides on the front seat?

Kat: You need to check your vehicle manual, as each car can differ in how to disable the airbag - some cars don't allow it.

 

Q: I've always planned to stay rear facing as long as possible but my 2.5yo is tall and it's getting difficult. What's the new law and recommendations?

Kat: We have a great blog post on this which explains iSize.

 

Q: My son is 15.6kg, I plan to buy a 2nd car seat for use in grandparents car, should I buy a 15kg+ or an upto 18kg?

Kat: Your son is safer in a 5 point harness until 18kg, so long as he fits in the harness. the Britax Evolva is a great 123 seat, harness to 18kg and then it converts to HBB. Britax's fit finder will tell you if it fits your car.

 

Q: What car seat is best for extended rear facing for new born or 9 month old I have an isofix Britax car seat and base?

Kat: It really depends on the child and if it fits the vehicle, Britax's fit finder can help you highlight suitable seats.

 

Q: Is it best to rearward face as long as possible?


Kat: Yes we recommend that you rear face for as long as possible.

 

Q: Do car seats expire after a length of time?

Kat: Our blog explains car seats and expiry.

 

Q: Is there anywhere you can get the car seat fitted properly?

Kat: Good Egg run checking events throughout the country, and have a retailer charter.

 

Q: Height, weight or age. Which is most important?!

Kat: R44 seats go by weight, iSize seats by height, it's important to take age into account too (so not forward facing a 6 month old at 9kg)

 

Q: I want to keep my 18 month old rear facing long as possible. Is it less safe if running out of leg room?

Kat: No, legs are in very little danger when rear facing and very unlikely to get hurt.

 

Q: What age/weight is rear facing recommended to? Hoping to use my brother in law's old seat for new baby, is this still OK?

Kat: We recommend rear facing for as long as possible. Our blog will help with re-using a child car seat!

 

Q: What are the most important points to look for when choosing a toddler car seat?

Kat: That the seat is suitable for their weight and height, fits all cars it will be used in, is easy to fit and the level of side impact protection.

 

Q: We don't have isofix in our car, does that mean our car seat isn't as secure/safe?

Kat: Not at all, belt fit seats are safe, just ensure the seat is compatible to your vehicle and fitted correctly if you have a Britax seat, the fit finder can help you confirm it's compatibility.

 

Q: Is the max child height 105cm for all rear facing car seats?

Kat: No the 105cm only applies to iSize car seats.

 

Q: When we move onto the next stage seat should I take weight or height into consideration first?

Kat: It depends what seat you've got, as to when it's outgrown - but it's weight or height, whatever comes first.

 

Q: Realistically to what age can you rear face until? I'll be checking the height/weight but roughly what age?

Kat: To age 4, although some seats (such as the Britax Multi Tech or Max Way) will go to 25kg - approx age 6!

 

Q: Does certain clothing effect the safety of a harness on a car seat?

Kat: Yes. Thick, puffy or bulky clothing can cause an unsafe harness fit - best to remove all coats before strapping in!



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Parents take to social media to warn others about potentially dangerous child car seat…

Leading child safety campaigner, Good Egg Safety has been alerted by four separate families warning of a potentially dangerous child car seat - the Kiddu Lane 123 seat - where a child has been injured while being transported in it.

The first reported incident to Good Egg occurred in April this year where a 22 month old boy was thrown out of his seat when his relative had to make an emergency stop; sustaining serious bruising to his head. Since this was reported on social media a further three families have reported similar incidents to Good Egg Safety where two more children have also sustained injury.



Bruised head

 

Concerned Mum, Stacey Tennant, who reported the original incident said: “When we alerted parents about our concerns, I felt sick to hear that other similar incidents had occurred and been swept under the carpet. If my son had been seriously injured or killed and the manufacturer and retailer concerned knew beforehand that there was a problem and could have prevented it, I would have held them directly responsible. Now my hope is that no other parent has to find out the hard way and we are grateful to Good Egg for bringing this to their attention. My Facebook video has had over a million views so far which is really encouraging”

Good Egg Safety Chief, Jan James said today: "We are deeply concerned about this and have tried to contact the distributor concerned and also the stores who are currently selling this product. We have requested an immediate halt to sales until the issue is further investigated. It should not require the death of an infant for this to be taken seriously and financial considerations should be superseded by the health and safety of child passengers who may currently be at risk."

Paul Hussein bought his Kiddu Lane 123 seat earlier in February. He received an urgent call from his wife to say that their young son had fallen out of his seat on the journey home, after he had been carefully placed into his seat and the straps tightened. He said “this product should be recalled as it is unsafe before it potentially does more harm to a young child.”

Good Egg is issuing regular updates on its campaign facebook page to keep concerned parents and grandparents up-to-date with developments. Any concerned parents can also contact the organisation directly by emailing enquiries@goodeggsafety.com

Good Egg Safety Chief, Jan James, welcomes the news that Kiddu has temporarily withdrawn their seat from sale in Tesco and Asda until further tests are conducted.

This is very encouraging and we are pleased Kiddu has responded in this positive way. The health and safety of children is paramount and parents will understandably want further reassurance that their seat is safe.

 

Honor Byford, Chair, Road Safety GB added:

“The possibility that a child car seat or its harness has failed is alarming. I am pleased that Kiddu have now taken action to remove their seats from sale and to investigate these incidents as a matter of urgency. We are publishing this information to help alert Road Safety Professionals and, through them, anyone who has a Kiddu car seat so that they can contact Kiddu or the retailer from whom they bought the seat for more information and advice. We look forward to hearing the findings of the Kiddu investigations, which we will of course also publicise.”

 

Sarah-Jane Martin, spokesperson from Brake, the road safety charity said:

“Child seats are subject to strict safety standards for a reason, and can save a child’s life in the event of a crash. We’re pleased the Kiddu child seats have been removed from sale, and encourage any parent with concerns to visit a professional to have their seat checked."

 

The full statement from Kiddu follows:

“Product safety is our top priority and we are taking this matter very seriously. We have already conducted our own tests on our car seat buckles, which have indicated no fault to date. However, we have also requested that independent tests are carried out by the premier UK test authority as a matter of urgency. In the meantime, we have made the decision to temporarily withdraw the Kiddu Lane car seat from sale until the tests are complete.

We would like to reassure families with a Kiddu Lane car seat that the seat has been subjected to rigorous testing and has been approved to the current European Child Safety Standard ECE R 44/04 and by the Vehicle Certification Authority (VCA) in the UK. However, should anyone feel concerned they can call our dedicated helpline on 0161-702-5061.”



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65% of leading high street retailers are not giving safe advice when selling child car seats say undercover researchers...

 

53 out of 82 shops run by well-known national chains and independent retailers selling child safety seats did not give the full correct advice to mystery shoppers, according to a report published today.

The new findings, issued by Good Egg Safety, reveal that staff in the majority of stores tested did not ask enough basic information to ensure a safe fit of the child seats they were selling. A child car seat, no matter how well it is manufactured and tested, will not perform as it is designed to do in a collision if it’s not correctly installed or if it doesn’t fit the child or car it is purchased for.

Jan James, Chief Executive of Good Egg Safety, said today: “We’ve checked over 21,000 child car seats since 2002, and have found a 43% growth in incorrect fitment or incompatibility in the last five years, which is a major concern. Last year alone we discovered that 67% of seats were incorrectly fitted across the UK. These seats will provide reduced or possibly no protection in the event of a collision. There’s clearly a correlation here between incorrect fitting and substandard retailer fitting advice and this has to be addressed."

“We still encourage parents to buy their seat new from a high street store because second hand seats can’t provide the peace of mind that they will perform well in a crash unless their full history is known and parents can check the seat is easy to fit in their car prior to purchase. To ensure they receive the right advice, however, parents  and grandparents can download our new free checking guide which shows them what  questions they should be asked. The welfare and safety of their children is paramount.”

The findings have prompted the development of our powerful new advert above. Feedback to it from parent focus groups and industry partners has been resoundingly positive.

Honor Byford, Chair of Road Safety GB said: “This is very timely – just as families are taking more day trips and planning their holidays, checking the children’s car seats also needs to be on every parents “to do” list. We know from the many enquiries that we receive from parents that they find the multitude of different car seats and types of fittings very worrying. Parents – and grandparents – are relying on retailers to give them the best advice and service. Car seat retailers should be parent’s safety partners in keeping children safe when they are travelling in cars. This is a big responsibility but it is one that retailers can achieve. They should aim to give parents the confidence that they are providing a top quality service they can trust.”

Kevin Clinton, Head of Road Safety, RoSPA said: “It’s extremely important that child car seats are suitable for the child and correctly fitted in the car. This survey shows that retailers need to improve the help they give parents and make sure that their staff are trained so they can make sure their customers choose the correct seat and know how to fit it properly”

Sarah-Jane Martin, Brake, the road safety charity said: “You can’t put a price on your child’s safety. It’s shocking to think that so many child seats are incorrectly fitted. It is essential that children travelling in cars are protected by using the appropriate restraints. Using a child restraint that’s appropriate for a child’s size and weight and properly fitted reduces the risk of injury, and is effective in preventing the most serious injuries.”

Tanya Robinson, Child Safety Centre Manager at TRL said: “TRL continues to contribute to the development of the safety performance of child car seats. However, this work will not achieve its goals if those using the car seats are not provided with adequate guidance on how to choose an appropriate child seat  and do not understand how to fit and use them correctly. That is why we are working with Good Egg Safety to understand the common errors made by parents, grandparents and carers and to provide training for retailers.”

Sir Arnold Clark, The Arnold Clark Group said: “As latest statistics have shown, it is more important than ever that parents have as much information as possible on car seat safety and know what to look for when purchasing a child seat. That is why Arnold Clark is proud to support the Good Egg In-Car safety scheme and the essential work it does to raise awareness of child car safety. Its latest campaign is thought provoking, engaging and will strike an emotional chord with parents all over the country.”

Bengi Bingol Yalcin, Marketing Manager UK of Britax, said: “We are delighted to be working alongside Good Egg Safety and be part of such a powerful consumer campaign. We both share a common goal in working tirelessly to keep families safer, so are excited at what we can achieve together this year. We believe family freedom starts with safety and hope this campaign will help break down the overwhelming amount of information out there about in-car safety and give parents the confidence to make the right car seat choice for their car and their own precious family. Together we truly believe we can help parents enjoy every twist and turn of the amazing journey of parenthood, right from the very beginning! ”

Andrew Radcliffe, Managing Director at Dorel UK Ltd (Maxi-Cosi) said: “These results do reflect the need for retailers to improve training for their staff in delivering better service to consumers looking to buy child car seats. One of the key facets of the newly ratified i-Size regulation is ease-of-use in terms of installing and fitting child car seats, which is why Maxi-Cosi has been so keen to promote i-Size, inform the public about it and introduce car seats that are i-Size compliant. Maxi-Cosi is also committed and active in training retailers staff and these results draw further attention to the challenge caused by high staff turnover and use of temporary staff.”


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Global Road Safety Week Q&A!

Today our expert Kat took part in a live Q&A session over at Road Safety GB for Global Road Safety Week!

The session was very busy, with lots of questions answered - the hottest topics were iSize and booster cushions.

Do you have a burning question that isn't asked?  You can ask our experts at any time!

 

Ask an expert

 

1. Is an extended rear facing seat really safer than a forward facing Group 2/3 car seat? Why?


Child car seats which are tested under R44, are broken down into ‘group’ stages. The main stages are:
Group 0+ (infant seat)
Group 1 (toddler seat)
Group 2,3 (booster seat)

It is possible to have combinations of these seats, such as group 0+1, or group 123. Your question asks about group 2,3 car seats which are for children weighing 15kg, however, extended rear facing car seats are another option to group 1 toddler seats.

Rear facing children, after the infant seat stage, has been found to be safer. It is safer because a young child’s neck and spine are still developing, and their head is very heavy in proportion to this. In a frontal collision, which is the most dangerous and most common type of collision, a child’s neck is put under great amounts of strain. This is because the forward facing car seat secures their torso, but their head continues with the forward momentum. When rear facing, a child’s head, neck and spine remain fully aligned in a collision, which hugely reduces the force they are subjected to.

Countries which have their children rear facing until the age of 4 years have very low numbers of serious injuries and fatalities, and evidence does show that up to age 4, children are safest rear facing. Forward facing car seats have hugely reduced the numbers of children being killed or seriously injured, and we do not know how the misuse level affects the number of children getting hurt.

The risk of misuse is something to consider as well, as extended rear facing car seats can often be more difficult to fit – they are improving however and becoming easier to fit.

So in a nutshell, yes, rear facing is undoubtedly safer for children up to the age of 4, but it is important to ensure you fit and use the seat correctly.

 

2. Booster cushions (which I believe are a seat pad with no back) according to the .Gov website:  "should only be used for children over 22kgs." However they are being sold in high street stores as suitable for Group 2 with a 15kgs minimum weight limit on them.  Does this mean they are legal to use from 15kgs, or is the .gov website the law? Or does a child from 15kgs up to 22kgs have to have a "Rear or forward-facing child seat (booster seat)" as the .gov website says? Could you be prosecuted for having a child under 22kgs on a booster cushion?


Booster cushions are approved from 15kg, and may be used once a child reaches this weight, provided the adult seat belt fits across them safely (lap belt low on hips, and the shoulder belt running from their hip and across their shoulder). However, children are safest using a high back booster, over a booster cushion – although you won’t be prosecuted if you do use a cushion. Both high back boosters and booster cushions may be used from 15kg, up to 36kg/12 years old/135cm – whichever comes first.


3. I'd love to see some more evidence that impact shields aren't as safe as harnesses as there's a lot of confusion caused by how those seats perform in tests where dummies can't record the internal injuries, but apparently loads on the necks are lower than in forward facing harnessed seats?


Impact shield car seats spread the force of a collision over a wider surface area, which reduces the forces a child’s neck is subject to – these forces are lower than when a child is using a 5 point harness. The test dummies do not currently measure abdominal forces and there is currently no evidence available to show if impact shields are less safe due to abdominal loading.


4. Are high backed boosters with Isofix any safer than ones without? Thanks.


There is little safety difference in performance between ISOFIX and non ISOFIX high back boosters – both will protect a child well in a collision. ISOFIX is beneficial however, as it keeps the booster locked into place when the child is not in the car. A loose booster is a very dangerous projectile if you were to be involved in a collision, and the ISOFIX removes this risk as the seat is attached to the car.


5. I have heard it is unsafe for newborn babies to be in an infant car seat for extended periods of time. However some reports quote for as little as 20 minutes whereas others quote 2 hours. What is the recommended length of time for a baby to be safely in a car seat and if it is unsafe why are infant seats still being sold with pushchairs as a viable option for a newborn?


The research to show the safe amount of time a baby can be in a car seat has shown that the car seat can cause a baby’s oxygen saturation levels to drop. When tests have been carried out, the oxygen saturation levels have been shown to drop within 30 minutes. The ‘2 hour rule’ is generally thought to be the maximum amount of time a baby should be in their seat at any one time, although some organisations cite 90 minutes. There are other risks associated with infants spending too much time in their car seat, such as the development of ‘flat head syndrome’. Your baby must always use their car seat when in the car, but parents and carers should ensure they plan time for regular breaks of at least 20 minutes. If a car seat is going to be used on a pram chassis, it should only be used for quick trips, and the baby is safest being transferred to the lie flat pram if you will be out for any length of time.

 

6. Why are backless booster seats still available to buy if they offer no body protection for children?


Booster cushions are tested under R44.04 which tests for a frontal impact, rear impact and roll over - there is currently no side impact test required under R44. A booster cushion is designed to lift a child up enough so that the adult seat belt fits safely across their hips and upper body, it does not offer any protection for the torso, head or neck. A child is safer using a high back booster over a booster cushion whenever possible.

 

7. BeSafe say that their ERF seats are 5x safer. I know it relates to the load on the child's neck in the event of an accident. However, 5 x safer than what? 5 times safer than ANY forward facing seat, or 5 times safer than a harnessed seat? If this is true, why do seats with impact shields top the Which? Best Buy charts, and the first ERF seat is 11th in the chart, and only scores 4 stars for overall safety rear facing (not 5 stars.) What is the truth behind the marketing? Are ERF really safer? Are impact shields safer for the child as the Which results imply?


The 5x safer rule comes from a report which was undertaken in Sweden, which found that children were 5 times safer rear facing, than if they were forward facing in a booster seat. In Sweden, children are either rear facing up to age 4, or they are put into a booster seat – forward facing harnessed car seats are not available there, and so there is no evidence relating directly to them. What we have seen, however, is that Sweden has a very low casualty rate, whereas the UK rate is still too high. There is no doubt that forward facing car seats do a very good job and protect children in our cars, however, rear facing car seats do offer the best protection, particularly for younger children.

WHICH? take into account many things, as well as crash performance. One of the things which can bring a score down is ‘ease of fitting and use’ – extended rear facing car seats are considered to be difficult to fit and use, which is why they score more poorly. Impact shield seats score highly because they slightly reduce the force to a child’s neck and are considered easier to fit and use, and are quick to transfer between vehicles. However, based solely on crash performance, rear facing car seats are safer.

 

8. Is it true that although i-Size keeps children rear facing until 15 months old, this also means that the smallest 15 month olds - the lower 25% of 15 month olds will legally be able to forward face even if they weigh just 6, 7 or 8kgs? Will any minimum weight or height limit be added to an infant carrier to protect these children or will they really be fine forward facing at 15 months old?


i-Size does require children to rear face to 15 months old, and they are allowed to turn forward once they are 15 months, as there is no lower weight limit. However, i-Size child seats do have a lower height limit, so a child will not be allowed to use a seat they are not tall enough for, even if they are 15 months. A child may use the infant seat past 15 months, if they are within the height limit of the seat –the height on i-Size infant seats is 83cm.


9. I'm having trouble with my ERF, ISOFIX, swivel seat. I am speaking to the company but it looks as though I'm going to have to have a different seat. I'm not going to be able to have rear-facing (she's 18 months) so my choice will be between forward facing static ISOFIX seat or forward-facing swivel non-ISOFIX. Having a swivel seat makes my life easier, and I feel I can pull the straps tighter, but I want the one which is safest for my child. If fitted correctly, do you think a non-ISOFIX seat can be as safe as ISOFIX?


A non ISOFIX child car seat will perform just as well in a collision as an ISOFIX seat if they are both correctly fitted, however ISOFIX is considered safer as it is easier to fit.

With any child restraint that you buy, it is vitally important to visit a retailer who can give you advice and ensure the seat is compatible with your child and vehicle, as well as show you how to fit and use the child seat.

There are a number of swivel seats coming to market, many of which also do forward facing and are ISOFIX.


10. I'm confused with ISIZE as a lot of websites say it's the new regulation but then others say it's just a part of a new regulation. Which is it?


i-Size is both – it is a new regulation, but it is also part of an ‘overall’ regulation – which can become a little confusing!

The new regulation is R129, which i-Size is part of. i-Size covers phase 1 of the new regulation 129, and phase 2 which is looking at the safety of booster seats, is currently underway with completion aimed for 2016. Finally, phase 3 will be looked at, which includes all belt fitted only seats, the aim for completion on this is 2018.

So i-Size is a new regulation, but it is part of a larger regulation – R129.

The older regulation R44 is still valid and will be for some time yet, you do not have to replace your current car seat if it is not i-Size.

 

11. I was recently at a road safety conference in Dublin. In a survey the Irish Road Safety Authority found that 3 out of 4 child seats were incorrectly fitted and would therefore not meet required performance in the event of a collision. They have initiated "Check it fits" roadshows visiting supermarkets, etc. Are any similar initiatives planned in the UK?


Good Egg Safety runs a national child car seat awareness campaign and we conduct child car seat checking events across the UK. We are just about to launch a Child Seat Checking Roadshow throughout Scotland. You can find a list of checking events on the website: www.goodeggcarsafety.com

We have checked over 21,000 child car seats nationally since 2001 and data from our most recent 5 year average (12500 checks) indicates that 57% of child car seats are incorrectly fitted or used – last year alone 71% of seats in England and Wales were incorrect and 64% in Scotland.

It has prompted the development of a powerful new advert which will be screened here on Road Safety GB’s GRSW site on Monday 11th May so stay tuned and keep checking goodeggcarsafety.com for all the new child seat checking events clinics being booked throughout this year.


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Do child car seats expire?

The question of 'do child car seats expire' can be a confusing matter. There are many differing timescales given, and car seats in the UK do not come with a stamped expiry date.  It is not always clear when a car seat becomes unsafe to use, and there are car seats on the market designed to last 11 years.

 

Crash test expiry


Child car seats in the UK are tested to regulation 44, of which there have been several amendments.  These are shown as R44.01, R44.02, R44.03 and R44.04.  Child car seats may alternatively be tested to the new car seat regulation R129 (iSize).  Car seats tested to R44.01 or R44.02, are now illegal to sell and use, and car seats which have been tested to R44.03 are likely to be quite old.

R44.03 was introduced in 1995, so seats carrying this approval could be up to 20 years old!


Both of these car seats carry R44.03 approval labels!

 

Both of these car seats carry R44.03 approval labels!

Manufacturer advice


Many manufacturers recommend that you replace or upgrade your child car seats after 5 years, because child car seats are constantly being improved and upgraded, and a new car seat will be able to provide better protection and comfort than an older car seat. A good example of this is the increased availability of Swedish extended rear facing car seats in the UK, or new iSize seats.

 

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Swedish rear facing car seats, which prolong the excellent safety offered by rear facing.


 

 

 

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New iSize car seats pass more stringent testing such as side impact testing, and also require children to rear face for longer.


 

What about the 10 year limit?


Child car seats should not be used for more than 6-10 years, which was a recommendation from America that has been adopted throughout Europe.  Over time, the materials of a car seat will begin to degrade, so an old car seat may not perform as it should do in a collision.

It does not mean that car seats which are more than 10 years old are dangerous to use, provided they meet the correct regulation, are in good condition, with the harness intact and they are fitted and used correctly (and suitable for the child).  However, there have been large advances in child car seat safety and a newer seat will provide the very best protection.


Years

 

Child seats have become much safer over the years


Caution

We do not recommend using a second hand car seat, visit our second hand car seat series to find out why.


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What does buckle crunch mean? (Update)

 

When child seats are fitted with the adult seat belt, it must be the webbing of the seat belt holding the seat in place, not the seat belt buckle.  If any part of the plastic seat belt buckle casing is on or over the plastic frame of the seat, it is an unsafe fit, which is called buckle crunch.

Buckle crunch typically happens in vehicle's that have the female buckle on a long stalk, causing it to protrude out of the vehicle seat.

However, buckle crunch can happen on buckles with a shorter stalk, if the wrong car seat is used.



low buckle buckle crunch

 

Why is it dangerous?


Buckle crunch is dangerous, because the plastic casing of the seat belt buckle is bent on or over the plastic of the child seat.  This puts pressure on the casing, and in a collision, the casing could shatter - causing the car seat to not be safely restrained.

  

FF RF buckle crunch avoid

 

The seat on the left is the Maxi Cosi Tobi, which is a forward facing group 1 seat that often avoids buckle crunch. The seat on the right is the Axkid Minikid, which is a rear facing group 1,2 car seat that also often avoids buckle crunch.
 
If your vehicle has ISOFIX, it is useful to use it, as this removes the need for the adult seat belt.  It is important to visit a retailer to buy an ISOFIX seat, as not all ISOFIX seats fit all cars.  ISOFIX child restraints are normally classed as 'Semi Universal', and have a vehicle compatibility list. 


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What if your current child car seat has buckle crunch?

 

Buckle Crunch Example 4

 

If you have checked your child’s car seat and found it has buckle crunch (example above), try fitting it in a different seating position in the car. Occasionally the seat belt buckle length differs, and moving the seat to a different position solves the problem.

You can also check your model of child seat, on some seats there may be several ways to secure it, with one of those methods avoiding buckle crunch.

As an example, the Britax First Class has an alternative buckle routing:



Buckle crunch collage
If your child car seat and car are incompatible due to buckle crunch, you will have to replace the child seat with one that fits safely.

 

Do all types car seats suffer with buckle crunch?


No, only seats which use harness to restrain the child, and occasionally an impact shield, can have buckle crunch.  It is dangerous because the seat belt is holding the child seat in place, and the child seat is restraining the child with a harness.  In a collision, this puts a lot of pressure and force on the child seat, seat belt and buckle.

High back boosters and booster cushions do not get buckle crunch, because the booster is simply a 'belt positioning' device, which lifts the child up so the adult belt can fit them safely.

It is not dangerous for the buckle to sit over the frame of a high back booster - although you do need to make sure the buckle doesn't sit under and behind the frame of the seat, as this gives an unnatural belt route.

 

Examples of 'buckle crunch'


buckle crunch example 2

Buckle Crunch example 3
Maxi Cosi Buckle Crunch

Buckle Crunch Quick tip

Check with your vehicle manufacturer dealership, they may be able to fit shorter buckles into your car.


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Government car seat update

isizse

 

 

 

There is a new law, which came out in July 2013, called R129, which includes iSize car seats. The aim of the new regulation is to make car seats easier to choose and use, which will hopefully reduce the rate of incorrect fitment, and in turn keep children safer.  Last week the government website was updated which caused much confusion, this has now been amended. 

 

When children are traveling in an R44 approved seat, they may legally forward face from 9kg – although they are safer travelling rear facing for as long as possible. Most R44 approved infant seats will accommodate your baby to 13kg, or until the top of their head is level with the top of their seat. There are also R44 approved seats which will allow you to rear face your child up to 18kg, or 25kg. Only seats approved to R44.03 or R44.04 are legal to be used under this regulation.

 

R129 approved seats requires babies to be rear facing to 15 months, by law, amongst other improvements.  They must not forward face before this age.

 

The two regulations are currently running alongside each other - you can legally use an R44 car seat, or an R129 iSize car seat.

 

 

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5 steps to strap your child into their car seat correctly

Although strapping your baby in might sound like an easy task, the truth is, it is one of the most common misuses on child car seats.

The harness on a child’s car seat is there to restrain your child, and to absorb the energy from a collision – this blog looks at what you need to do to get it right in five easy steps:



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Step 1:


SNOWSUIT NANIA

 

Remove any thick, puffy or bulky clothing.  Puffy jackets or padded snowsuits – even very frilly tutus or dresses can interfere with the way the harness sits on your child.  The harness needs to sit close to your child’s body to work to the best of its ability, so ensure you remove anything that gets in the way.  To keep your child warm, tightly tuck a blanket around them once they are strapped in or dress them in thin, warm layers.

 

Step 2:


Too low

 

Ensure your harness is at the correct height for your child, an incorrectly adjusted harness will not only be uncomfortable for your child, but potentially dangerous too.  The straps must be as level with their shoulders as possible.

Rear facing : just below the shoulders

Front facing: just above the shoulders

 

Step 3:


twisted harness

 

Ensure your harness is straight and untwisted.  A twisted harness may not absorb the energy from a collision as well as it should do, so it is important to keep an eye on the straps and untwist them as soon as you notice they are not straight.  To untwist your harness, follow this guide:



untwist harness

 

Step 4:


chest pads

 

Pull the straps over your child’s shoulders, and ensure the chest pads are level.

 

Step 5:


tension

 

Pull the harness snug to your child’s body – the straps should be tight enough that you can just slip two fingers flat between your child’s body and their collar bones.

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