Is your child's car seat correctly fitted?
Find out now using Good Egg Safety's handy infographic.
There are many different group stage child car seats available, and quite often, there is a crossover of the weight categories. Children are safest staying in the lower stage seat for as long as possible – don’t be in a rush to move them up a stage. Our child car seat selector tool can help you work out what stage seat your child should be in.
We also see a lot of children at checking events using the wrong stage seat because it’s a short journey, or they’re allowed to use an older siblings booster seat for a treat – the wrong stage seat will not be able to protect your child adequately, and could have fatal consequences.
Not every child seat fits every car, even ISOFIX seats are not automatically compatible. It is essential to ensure your child car seat is a perfect fit to your car, and also to other cars it may be fitted into. If you have an ISOFIX seat, you can visit the manufacturer’s website for an up to date vehicle fitting list. Some companies, such as Britax and Maxi Cosi have developed fit finders, to help you find what seat fits your car.
Avoid buying your child car seat online, or from stores who fail to offer trained members of staff who can give you fitting advice. Our store finder tool gives you a list of Good Egg approved retailers.
Once you have the correct stage child car seat, and know that it is compatible to your vehicle, it is important to fit it correctly. It isn’t always obvious how your seat fits, particularly when using the adult belt. Our blogs on fitting the seat with the seat belt, or ISOFIX can give you great tips to help you to fit your seat safely.
Once your child car seat is strapped in, it is important that your child is strapped in safely. Although this sounds obvious, it is the second most common error on child seats. A properly fitted seat will stay put in the car, but a poorly fitted child will not be restrained or protected correctly.
When securing your child with a harness, the following steps will help you ensure they are safely restrained:
This nationwide campaign, supported with powerful crash test footage, urges parents to get rid of any booster cushion seats they might have and opt for highback boosters with head and side impact protection to ensure children are safe and secure on their travels this summer - and beyond.
While the current law requires children to travel in a car seat until they are 135cm tall or 12 years old, Britax believes there is still a lack of understanding around safety in Group 2-3, which protects children from four to around 12 years of age. At this stage many parents opt for a simple booster cushion to help lift their child and ensure the vehicle seat belt sits correctly on the bony parts of their bodies. However, Britax found that approximately half (49%) of seat belts used to secure child seats may be fitted incorrectly*. They are often twisted, too high, or fitted around the seat and not the child. On top of misfittings, these booster cushions also offer no head or side impact protection for children.
To get parents’ full attention and highlight the true danger of booster cushions, Britax has released some alarming footage filmed at their crash test centre in Andover. It captures the safety performance of a booster cushion vs a highback booster seat in the event of a frontal collision. The footage sees the child sized dummy in the booster cushion instantly thrown forward upon impact. Viewers are able to witness from a range of angles that the upper belt is kept in place on the highback booster thanks to the upper belt guide, whereas the dummy on the booster cushion frees itself from the upper belt. Even in this frontal collision, the dummy in the booster cushion is flung towards the side of the car, dangerously hitting its head on the side of the vehicle at speed, as opposed to the highback booster, which sees the dummy stay more supported with head and upper body containment thanks to its side wings and headrest.
Mark Bennett, Britax’s safety expert, comments: “After watching this footage, parents will think twice when choosing a Group 2-3 car seat as it is incredibly haunting and really demonstrates the importance of deep protective side wings, head support and seat belt guides to ensure that seat belts are correctly positioned and fitted. We are calling for all parents using booster cushions to switch to a highback booster option and help us further spread the word about the inadequate protection these cushions provide - it could save precious lives this summer!”
Booster cushions are still sold because it is not required by current EU safety standards to conduct tests for side collisions on Group 2-3 seats. However, Britax only sells and recommends highback boosters and their products far surpass the legal safety requirements. Product developers continue to incorporate the latest, most advanced and industry leading safety innovations; including the energy absorbing seat belt pad, the XP-PAD and adjustable side impact cushion technology (SICT) for superior side impact protection in their highback booster range as can be seen in the popular KIDFIX XP SICT. Britax’s highback booster range includes seats fitted with ISOFIT** that connects the seat directly to the car’s chassis, creating a safe and rigid installation.
Britax is not alone in its belief that booster cushions are not the safest option for children.
Jan James, CEO of Good Egg Safety, which provides safety advice for families in the UK comments:
“We welcome this powerful footage from Britax which really drives home the dangers of booster cushions. What makes this so poignant is the fact that when using these, parents are at least trying to protect their children by lifting them up to ensure a better fit of seat belt, not realising that their child is still in significant danger in the event of an impact. The nerves in the neck don’t stretch well and a collision which throws the head forward with the force demonstrated here could potentially result in catastrophic injuries to their child. Good Egg Safety thoroughly recommends the use of a high back booster for that extra vital protection. As witnessed here, it will really make the difference.”
The 2015 ‘Bin the Booster’ campaign will run all summer from Monday 13th July, just before the school holiday season. In addition to sharing the powerful video footage far and wide, it will see Britax actively sharing key tips on what to look out for when purchasing a new Group 2-3 seat. It will also include a live Q&A on the Britax Twitter page on 15th July with Britax safety experts Mark Bennett and Cheryl Dunn, who will be on hand to answer any questions parents may have on the topic.
Although choosing a car seat for your baby might be the last thing on your mind early in your pregnancy, it really is the very FIRST thing you need to get right before bringing your precious little bundle home.
We can help. Good Egg Safety is the UK's most trusted in-car safety specialist and, based on our experience of checking over 20,500 child car seats, we've put together this useful guide just for YOU.
It covers the key things you will need to consider when the time comes to buy your baby's first car seat. You can also read further blog posts or visit our main website for all the free advice you will ever need on how to keep your baby safe.
Your baby’s car seat is perhaps one of the most important things you will buy them, it will keep them safe and secure in the car, and should you ever be involved in a collision, it is there to protect them. However, despite the car seat being so important, it can also be one of the most confusing things to buy!
Group 0 child car seat – normally lay flat, with a 10kg baby weight limit, these seats often take up two seating positions.
Group 0+ child car seat - rear facing, with a 13kg baby weight limit, these often have a base option and are portable, they often fit on the pram.
Group 0+1 child car seat – rear facing, and may turn forward later on, with an 18kg child weight limit. These seats tend to remain fitted in the car.
Research what awards the child seat has won – Mum and Baby awards will assure you of comfort and user friendliness, and crash test awards from German Stiftung Warentest and ADAC will assure you of superior crash performance. Alternatively, an iSize approved seat meets the very latest requirements, including mandatory side impact protection.
Child car seats are either fitted with ISOFIX or the adult seat belt, and while both are very secure when correctly fitted, ISOFIX is considered safer as it reduces the risk of misuse. Group 0+1 car seats which use ISOFIX normally have the ISOFIX attached to the seat. Group 0 and 0+ car seats may utilise a separate base that remains fitted in the car, not all infant seats have this option so check for this before choosing your seat.
Travel systems are very convenient, however it is very important for your baby’s health that they do not spend excessive amounts of time in their infant seat. The car seat should only be used on the pram for very short, quick trips out of the car and if you are going to be out for any length of time, your baby is safer being moved into their lie flat pram. The maximum amount of time your baby should be in the infant seat is 90 minutes, and they should then have a break from the seat. However, if you are driving, this may be exceeded as your baby must always use a car seat when in the car, ensure you plan in time for regular breaks on long journeys.
When it comes to purchasing your baby’s first car seat, we recommend that you visit a retailer, with properly trained staff, who will spend time with you ensuring you are happy with the seat and how to fit it.
The child car seat base is typically available for group 0+ car seats, and will either be fitted with the seat belt or ISOFIX. The benefit of the base is that it remains fitted into the car, and you simply click the infant seat on and off the base. The base will normally have an indicator to tell you that your seat is properly clicked into place. The benefit of a base is that you do not have to re fit the seat every time and the audible click and indicators will give you peace of mind that your seat is properly fitted on every journey.
NOT EVERY CHILD CAR SEAT FITS EVERY CAR, so it is important to ensure the seat is tested in every car it will be used in.
Practice fitting your car seat regularly, so you are completely comfortable with how you secure it in the car, and ensure you know how to loosen and tighten the harness. Read the fitting instructions as these will give you extra information specific to your child seat.
If you buy accessories for your baby’s car seat, ensure toys are securely fastened and soft. Avoid adding frilly covers, or aftermarket covers to your seat, as these are not crash tested and may alter the safety offered by the seat.
Here are our top tips to follow when fitting your baby’s seat!
1. Your new baby must travel in a seat suitable for their weight, which is either lie flat, or rear facing, babies are rear facing. Rear facing car seats have blue seat belt guides to follow
2. Ensure the base of your infant seat, and the edge of the seat sit flush with the vehicle seat and seat back.
3. When fitting the car seat, ensure the seat belt remains flat and untwisted. The buckle of your seat belt should not rest on the frame of the infant seat, or base.
4. Ensure the seat belt is routed through the correct guides, as the belt may not necessarily go through every guide. Be sure to consult the fitting instructions and watch a fitting video if one is available.
5. If you have an infant seat, ensure your carry handle is in the correct position for travelling in the car.
1. Not every ISOFIX car seat is suitable for every car, be sure to check the vehicle compatibility list and make sure your seat is suitable for your vehicle, and every other vehicle it will be used in.
2. Locate the ISOFIX points in your car, and fit the ISOFIX guides if required – these do not have to be fitted if your ISOFIX is accessible, they are simply available to help make fitting easier.
3. Extend the ISOFIX arms fully, and fit these to the ISOFIX points in your car – you will hear an audible click when each arm is connected, and the indicator will turn green.
4. Now lower the support leg to the floor, the leg should sit firmly on the floor so the indicator is green, but the base should not be lifted off the vehicle seat.
5. If you have an infant seat, ensure the carry handle is in the correct position for travelling in the car.
Strapping your baby into their car seat sounds like it should be easy, however it is one of the most common errors that we come across – straps are often left too loose or set at the incorrect height. Here are our 5 tips for ensuring your baby is safely strapped in.
1. Remove any thick, puffy and padded coats, jackets or snowsuits. These create a gap between the harness and the child, which may cause the harness to not work properly.
2. Ensure the harness is at the correct height – the straps should be level with the tops of your child’s shoulders. However, if you can’t get the straps level with, they may dip just below when rear facing and sit just above when forward facing.
3. Ensure the harness is completely flat against your child, with no rips, tears or twists in the harness.
4. Pull the harness over your child’s shoulders, and clip into the buckle – if your seat has a 5 point harness, now pull the straps from just above the buckle to ensure the straps are tight over your little one’s hips.
5. Finally, pull the harness to tension it, so the straps sit firmly on your child. You should just be able to get two fingers between your child and the harness at collar bone level.
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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 email@example.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.”
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.”
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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