The Good Egg Car Safety Blog

Top 10 tips for travelling with children this summer

Top 10 tips for travelling with children this summer

As school breaks approach many families will be planning holidays away which require a car journey in order to reach their destination of choice. Here are our top 10 tips to make that journey as comfortable and hassle free as possible!


1. It is always important to remember the safety of older children when making a car journey. Children are legally required to use a suitable restraint up until they are 135cm in height, or 12 years old – whatever comes first.


2. Older children are safest travelling in a high-back booster seat which provides side impact protection, head, neck and torso support, as well as a safe place to rest their head to sleep, which can help prevent them falling out of the seat belt during the car journey.



3. Many car seats have additional safety features, such as protective seat belt pads, side impact protection technology and abdominal protection to provide both a safer and more comfortable fit for your older child.


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New booster seats ban explained

New booster seats ban explained

There have been many reports regarding the new stricter rules which may be coming out about booster cushions and this has caused much confusion.

This proposed change is a new amendment to the current regulation R44 and will only apply to new approved products. This means that parents who currently have booster cushions can legally continue to use them as they have been.

However, if the proposed amendment goes through, this would potentially mean that parents buying new backless booster seats (booster cushions) in 2017 would only be able to use them for children above 125cm in height and 22kg in weight.

It has not actually been confirmed that a new addition to the child car seat regulations will be coming into effect in December 2016.

Currently, it is in discussions and yet to be voted on. However, there is only one more stage of approval to go through and is unlikely to get rejected at that stage.



There are currently two child car seat regulations running alongside each other – R44.04, which are the weight based car seats, and R129, which is a new regulation.

R129 is making seats easier to choose, fit and use. However, R44.04 weight based approved seats will still be sold, legal and safe for some years to come. One of the key features of R44 is that child seats are chosen based on weight:

Group 0+ (infant seats) – 0 to 13kg
Group 1 (toddler seats) – 9kg to 18kg
Group 2,3 (Booster seats) – 15kg to 36kg

Part of the problem with R44, is that children tend to be moved up a stage as soon as they reach the minimum weight limit for the next stage, when it is actually safer for them to stay in each stage seat until they reach the maximum weight limit for their current stage. A step up in group stage is a step down in safety.

R44.04 currently allows boosters, even booster cushions, to be approved from 15kg – this can legally be a child as young as 2 years or less! While the weight limit is the main factor, there are also height considerations to take into account. A child can be 15kg in weight, yet still be far too small to use a booster.

Children's bones are very different from adults, and their hips and pelvis are very small and set far back. The hips and pelvis are what helps to keep a seat belt in place, and absorb energy. These bones are not really strong enough for a seat belt until a child is around 4 years of age. There are 25kg harness limit seats for children who reach the 18kg harness weight limit at a young age.


Children under 125cm in height and 22kg weight will not be allowed to use a newly type approved (R44.04 supplement 11) booster cushion, but can still use booster cushions that were approved prior to this change after December 2016, if the proposed amendment is approved. They will have to use a high back booster.

We always recommend that children travel in the high back booster if they are the correct weight and height for it, and fit comfortably within the headrest. A high back booster provides additional head, neck and torso protection.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us directly at enquiries@goodeggsafety.com



**​UPDATE** Legislation review has been postponed to 2017, Good Egg Safety is awaiting an official response from DFT.

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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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The importance of getting your car seat checked

Good Egg Safety car seat checking events


Car seats under £100

 

Good Egg Safety is the leading organisation for in car child safety, and we have checked over 20,500 car seats since 2002.  The child seat events are designed to give parents somewhere to go to have their child’s car seat checked, so they can make sure they are sitting safely.

Over the years the rate of incorrect fitment has risen however, and over the last 5 years the rate of incorrect fitment has increased by 43%.  The 5 year average for car seats being incorrectly fitted, based on over 12,000 checks, now stands at 57%.

The amount of incorrectly fitted seats last year was 64% in Scotland, and 71% in England and Wales.  Our research suggests there are a vast majority of seats being bought online, where a parent receives little advice on choosing the right seat, and no help with fitting safely.  Other issues come from poor advice given by retail staff, and parents and carers accepting hand me downs and second hand seats.

Anybody can have an incorrectly fitted seat, and it is not something to feel guilty or be embarrassed about, it is certainly better to find out any problems with your seat during a checking event, than in a collision!

 

What happens at a child seat checking event?


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Child seat checking events allow our highly trained experts to be on hand to not only check your car seat for you, but to also answer all questions and queries you may have – no matter how small!  We will also have a height chart available, stickers for the children and our handy Good Egg Guides for mums, dads and carers.

There are two parts to getting your car seat checked – checking the seat fits your car and is fitted correctly, and checking your child fits the seat and is strapped in correctly.  We can check your car seat fitment even if your child is not with you.

Checking the seat fits your car:

    • We check for any fitting concerns, such as buckle crunch, forward anchor point, floor boxes and the fit of the child seat to the vehicle seat

 

    • We then check the seat belt is routed correctly, and we will inform you of any errors we find.



If there are any errors with the seat compatibility or fitment, we will explain these fully to you, and then explain and demonstrate how to correct the issue.  We are almost always able to correct errors and rarely have to recommend a new seat.



Checking the seat fits your child:

    • We will ask for your child’s age, weight and check their height to ensure the seat they are travelling in is suitable for them.

 

    • We will then ask you to fit your child into the seat as you normally would do. We check the harness is at the correct height and tension, and give any advice that may be necessary (such as removing thick clothing).

 

    • If any adjustments are required to your seat we will explain these to you, and then help you make the adjustments.



Finally, if the seat has had to be removed from the vehicle, we will help you put it back in – we always insist that you fit the seat yourself however, so you can be fully confident with the seat fitment the next time you have to take it out!



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Law exception - Short journeys

"It is OK for your child to not use a car seat on short journeys" - FACT or MYTH?


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MYTH!

 

This is perhaps one of the most commonly misunderstood exceptions to the law, and the one most often misused.

 

What does The Law say?


The law states that a child over the age of 3 may travel without a child restraint, on short journeys of unexpected necessity.  The child must use the adult seat belt.

 

What is unexpected necessity?

 

    • An essential trip that you had no prior notice of.

 

    • When the child may be at risk, if they do not travel.

 

    • Emergency, unplanned trips to A&E/Doctors/Out of Hours Surgeries where no car seat is available.

 

What sort of journeys are not acceptable uses of this exception?

 

    • Catching a lift with a friend/relative to save walking.

 

    • A pre-planned appointment.

 

    • Trips that could be reasonably pre-planned (like a school run, or looking after friends/relatives children).

 

    • Long distances.

 

    • Children under 3 years of age.

 

Has this law exception for short journeys ever confused you?


Read our blog on the other car seat law exceptions.


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Second hand car seat danger - Case study 3

Can you spot what is wrong with this car seat?


This blog is going to continue our focus on the dangers of buying a second hand car seat without knowing its history with case study 3.

You can read the rest of the series by clicking the following links:

Introduction to second hand seats

Tips for buyers

Case Study 1

Case Study 2

 

for FB OL

 


This car seat was purchased from a well-known auction site for £10 with local collection; to the eye this seat looks in good condition. The advert claims that it has been kept in the garage and never dropped or involved in an accident.

When our expert collected the seat, the seller was a friendly Dad of 6 and they were selling to make room in the garage. The seller told our expert that he was very concerned about child seat safety; he again assured us that the seat had never been involved in a collision and that he would never sell one that had been.

This is a group 0,1,2 car seat that is used rear facing to start with, and turns forward facing later on.

Our expert has studied this seat closely, and we have found the following causes for concern…

 

Under the cover


The foam protection in this seat is severely damaged and cracked, which greatly reduces the protection the seat can offer.



DAMAGED OL

 

BREAK OL

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HARNESS OL

 

This seat has not been well cared for, and the damage to the foam raises concerns over the ability of the seat to provide the protection it should be able to give.

 

The harness


The harness on this seat looked to be fine when our expert collected the seat.  However upon inspection of the seat, it became apparent that the harness has been tampered with!



HARNESS 3 OL

 

Have you spotted what is wrong yet?


The hip straps on this seat have been tampered with, the harness is supposed to be a 5 point harness, with the hip straps attached to the seat. This attachment has been removed at some point in the seats life, leaving the harness only able to restrain the child across the shoulders and crotch strap. This is severe damage to the harness and it would be very dangerous in a collision, the force of an impact would only be spread over the child’s shoulders, and the buckle and harness are unlikely to be able to take the additional strain.



BROKEN HARNESS OL

 

There is also no ECE R44 label on this seat, although we know it is a European seat, we are unable to tell to what approval it was tested.

 

The seller


What struck our expert with this seat however, was the seller. When the seat was collected our expert got chatting to him - he’s a Dad of 6, had come back from taking his family on holiday the day before and works in children’s entertainment and with disabled children. He is an extremely caring individual who actively works to improve children’s lives, yet he sold a child seat that is not only very old, but very dangerous.

A seller of a seat may not be aware the seat they are selling is dangerous and believe that it is safe and a bargain for someone – if the buyer also doesn’t spot these damages, the only time they will find out their seat is dangerous is in a collision.

If you have to buy second hand, only buy from someone who you trust, and that you 100% know the history of the seat, a dangerous car seat may cost them their life.

 

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Do child car seats fit in all cars?

Q: Do child car seats fit in all cars?

 

A: No, child car seats do not fit in all cars and there are many factors to take into account when choosing the perfect child car seat.


First of all, you need to decide what group car seat is going to be suitable for your child – this is based on their weight and height. Once you know what group options are open to you, you need to find out what child car seats fit into your car.

Vehicles can cause many fitting problems – from having long seat belt buckles causing buckle crunch, to floor storage boxes making the support leg unsafe.  It is vitally important to visit a retailer who is able to give you the right advice and be willing to try different seats out in your car, so you can be sure to find the best fit.

Once you know what child car seats fit into your vehicle, you can choose the seat you like – this is normally based on the features the seat offers, such as longer rear facing, easy adjust harness or additional side impact protection.

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5 Common Child Car Seat Fitting Errors



One of our Good Egg Safety experts, Kat, demonstrates five of the most common car seat fitting errors that we come across at many of our child car seat checking events across the UK



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What is a group 1 car seat?

Group 1 car seats


Group 1 car seats accommodate little ones that weigh between 9kg and 18kg.  After reading the previous Good Egg blog on group 0+ child car seats, you may have noticed that there is a crossover in the weight recommendations.  A rear facing group 0+ child seat will last until 13kg, yet a group 1 car seat says it is suitable from 9kg!  So are they just as safe as each other?

The simple answer is No.  Forward facing your baby at 9kg is not as safe as keeping them rear facing to 13kg.

If your child is moving up to a group 0+1 combination seat in rear facing mode, or an extended rear facing group 1 seat at 9kg, this isn’t such an issue as they still have the protection of being rear facing.

 

So when should you move to the next stage?


The infant seat should be used right up to the 13kg mark.  The only time a child should move to the next stage seat before this weight is reached, is if they have outgrown the infant carrier by height – so when the top of their head is level with the top of the car seat.

If they are moving up to a group 1 car seat and have outgrown their infant carrier by height they must weigh at least 9kg and be able to sit unaided for 30 minutes.

 

What to look for in a group 1 car seat.


Many people assume that a group 1 car seat has to be forward facing, however there are rear facing group 1 car seats available, which offer better protection for the neck, head and spine in a collision.  Many rear facing group 1 car seats encompass more than one group, covering either group 0+1 or group 1,2.   Extended rear facing car seats will be covered in greater detail in a separate post, due to be released soon.

 

Forward facing

 

 

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Rear facing


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Once you decide which direction you are going to face your child, you need to choose your seat - but there are a few things to do first!  At Good Egg Safety, we recommend you visit a retailer that can offer good advice from trained staff members.  Some retailers offer appointments, so call in advance to make sure there will be someone available to help you.

What information you need to take with you:


1. Your child's weight

2. Your child's height (where their head is in relation to the top of their current seat - do they have space above their head?  Are their eyes level with the top of the seat?) Preferably, have your little one with you so you can try them in seats.

3. Your car details, and details of any other cars the seat will be fitted into (including friends, childminders, grandparents) you will need to know the make, model and year of each car.

4. Do the vehicles that the seat will be fitted into all have ISOFIX?

 

 Features and benefits:


There are big price differences between car seats, so what should you look out for to make sure you spend your money wisely?

ISOFIX or seat belt fitment?


 

isofix 2


If you have ISOFIX points in your car, you will be able to consider ISOFIX car seats.   When ISOFIX and seat belt fitted restraints have been tested, with both seats fitted correctly, there is little reported difference in performance and protection offered - both ISOFIX and seat belt fitted restraints perform well.

ISOFIX is considered safer as it dramatically reduces the risk of child car seats being fitted incorrectly.  Many come with indicators to show when the seat is clicked in properly for complete peace of mind.



Caution

If you opt for an ISOFIX seat, make sure that you check the vehicle fitting list to confirm that the child seat is compatible with your car.

 

Tension system and easy to fit.


tilt

If you are choosing a seat belt fitted car seat, consider seats that have a seat belt tension system and ones that are easy to fit.  Some car seats are more difficult to fit than others, so don't be afraid to ask to have a go at fitting each seat if you have a few options!  It is important that you are fully confident fitting your child's car seat. Opting for one that is easy to fit will reduce the possibility of it being incorrectly fitted.

A seat belt tension system on a seat belt fitted restraint does exactly what it says - it tensions the seat belt once the seat is fitted.  This extra tension is normally applied by pushing a lever or by operating  a 'ratchet' to tighten the seat belt up.  This helps you get a good, tight fit on your car seat and reduces the risk of the seat belt being too slack - which is why a seat belt tension child restraint is safer than one without.

Side impact protection


 

Side Wings



Lots of people assume that child car seats provide side impact protection as standard, but it is currently not a legal requirement on the R44.04 crash test and there are seats on the market which do not offer any side impact protection.



So how do you ensure your car seat does offer side impact protection? 

1. Look for child seats that have a full, integrated head rest.  This will help support your child's head and will give another layer of protection in a side impact.

2. Look at child seats that have deep, padded side wings - this is a good indicator that they may offer side impact protection.

3. Check what crash test awards a seat has received.  A seat that has been awarded an ADAC or Stiftung Warentest score has been side impact tested.  These additional tests not only test how the seat performs in a side impact, but it also tests at a higher frontal impact force.  The ADAC and Stiftung Warentest awards give a car seat a score, the lower the score the better the seat performed.  The ratings run from poor to very good.

4. New i-Size regulations and crash testing have now introduced a side impact test, so if you purchase an i-Size car seat, you can be reassured that it has passed the test and offers protection from side impacts.

Adjustable headrest and harness


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Child seats come with the 5 point harness which restrains the child, and the harness will have the ability to increase in height as your child grows.  There are two ways this can be done on a child seat.  Either by unhooking the straps at the back of the seat and re-threading them, or by pulling the head rest up which will increase the harness height at the same time.

Choosing a seat with a harness that you can increase simply by pulling the headrest up removes the need to unhook and re-thread the harness.  This is a safety feature as it reduces the risk that the harness will become twisted, re-threaded at the incorrect height, or damaged.

Child seats with a re-thread harness typically only have 3 height options, whereas a harness that adjusts with the headrest normally offers 6 or 7 height options - this will reduce the likelihood that you will end up with the straps at the incorrect height whilst you are waiting for your child to grow into the next slots.

This is also a useful feature for people who will use the seat for a number of children.

 

Recline option


REclinee


Most group 1 car seats come with the option to recline the seat.  This offers a more comfortable position for the child to sleep.  It does not make the child safer if they're reclined and there is not normally an age or weight limit on using the recline function.

When deciding which car seat to buy, ensure the recline function is easy to operate and that it does not alter the seat belt routing.  On some child seats, you must preset the recline when you fit the seat, as operating it once the seat is fitted causes the seat belt to loosen off.

 

Easy to remove, washable seat covers


 

30 wash

Ensure the seat you are buying has the option to wash the seat covers, but that the seat covers are easy to remove from the seat.  If you have to undo half of the car seat and pull out all the harness to get the covers off, it is possible that the seat will be put back together incorrectly.  Choosing a seat that lets you leave the harness in place when you remove the covers reduces the risk of the harness becoming twisted or incorrectly fitted.

For convenience, check that the covers are machine washable at 30 degrees.



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Flying with young children (Part 1)

 

There are lots of blogs and advice guides out there giving fantastic hints and tips for parents travelling or flying with young children. Many of them mention to take a child car seat, but it isn’t always as easy and straightforward as that.

What do you need to know to help you decide if you are going to take a car seat with you for the plane? That is what we are going to explore in this 3 part 'Flying with young children' mini blog series.

For a long time while in planes young children have travelled on their parents lap and babies in bassinets.  Yet more and more parents are concerned and want their child in a proper restraint. Using a car seat on the plane gives you a safe and secure place to secure your baby should you hit turbulence.



Flying with young children 1

 

See the full story here!

Car seats also give little ones a properly secured place for take off and landing - the most dangerous parts of the flight! They can also protect the child in an emergency landing, as this story shows:



Flying with young children 2

Blog Quick tip

Slings and carriers are not deemed safe for take off and landing and you will be requested to remove little one and hold them on your lap.

 

What you need to know about taking a car seat on board!

 

1. You will have to buy your baby/child their own seat on the plane


Some airlines will allow you to take a seat on board without having booked the child their own seat - yet this is not guaranteed to keep the family together and there may not be any spare seats left when it comes to boarding.  The airline may also refuse even if there is space. It is advisable to start off with paying for the plane seat for the child.

Blog Quick tip

Before paying out for a separate seat for your child (unless you were opting to regardless of using a child seat!) make sure your airline will allow the use of the child seat.

 

2. It must be a TUV approved child car seat


There are some UK child seats that are TUV approved for use on aircraft.  Having a TUV approved seat does not guarantee that you will be allowed to use it - the decision resides with the airline.  It also does not mean that you can’t use a different seat that is not TUV approved.  If the seat is not TUV approved you must remember that airplanes only have lap belts and the child restraint must be certified to be fitted with a lap belt.

Blog Jargon buster

TUV approved means that the seat has been tested and approved by TUV Rheinland to be suitable for use on an aircraft.

 

3. Confirm that the make and model of your seat is allowed


When you confirm with the airline that you can take your own child seat on the plane, also confirm with them if the make and model of your seat is allowed, and what child seats they accept; you need to ensure this whether your seat is approved or not. You don’t want to get to check-in to be told that you cannot take your seat on board.  If you can, get confirmation from the airline that you can use the child seat in writing and take this with you to show the airline staff if needed.  If the child seat that your child normally uses is not approved or allowed then you will need to buy a new one.

Blog Quick tip

Children over the age of 2 must have their own plane seat purchased - always check your airline’s policy.


Flying with young children 3


It is also worth checking to see if your airline supplies child seats. Virgin Atlantic states that it can supply child restraints on international flights, so long as they are pre-booked.

 

Go to part 2                                                                  Go to part 3


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