The Good Egg Car Safety Blog

Second hand car seats case study 1 - Mama's and Papa's Traveller G-Matic

Welcome to case study 1!


Throughout November we are focusing on the dangers second hand seats pose to children and their families.

We are running four case studies on seats that our expert has bought from an auction wesbite - this installment is going to look at the first seat our expert found, it is a Mama’s and Papa’s Traveller G-Matic.

 

The seller online stated:


"The seat has never been involved in an accident, is in good condition and suitable from 0-6 months."

 

close up OL

 

What are the problems with this seat?



First of all, this seat is old, which we can see from the design of the covers and the frame of the seat.  A seat this old will not offer the protection current seats can, and it is unlikely to pass higher impact testing or side impact testing.

This seat is a group 0 rear facing infant seat, these are rarely made in rear facing mode now.  This means a child could only rear face to 10kg in this seat, where most modern seats allow rear facing to 13kg – up to about 12/15 months old.

 

Is it legal?


The seat has an ECE sticker on the rear, which shows it to be an R44.03 approved seat. This means that the seat can still legally be used, despite it’s age.



ECE R44.03 OL

 

However, R44.03 was released in 1995 - so this seat could be anywhere up to 19 years old!

 

Is it easy to fit?


The fitment of the seat is what we are used to seeing on infant seats nowadays, with the lap belt over the baby’s lap and the chest belt around the back of the seat.



Fitted OL

 

The handle also has to be back on this seat, rather than upright. On most modern infant seats, the handle is upright or forward to allow it to act as a roll cage in a collision.

This seat has no newborn inserts or head huggers, and the side impact protection is lacking. Under R44.03 and R44.04 crash testing, side impact protection is not currently a legal requirement,  however many modern R44.04 infant seats will provide side impact protection.

Under R129 iSize side impact protection is a legal requirement which is crash tested.

The harness on this seat is also different to what we see on modern seats.



Harness old OL

 

This harness must be adjusted individually from the back of the seat. This means that the harness is even less likely to be used correctly, as it is very difficult and fiddly to alter the straps as your child grows/to suit their clothing. Also note that there is only one harness position.

The primary concern with this seat – and it should be with any seat you do not know the history of – is that it is second hand. A stranger is telling us that this is going to protect our child’s life – is the word of a stranger good enough?

 

Our expert paid £5.99 for this seat, plus postage – worth the bargain?


No. This seat is now too old to be sure of it’s safety and effectiveness, even if it wasn’t second hand. We have no idea of the history of the seat and the way in which the seat is fitted and used means it most likely won’t be adjusted correctly.

The seat did not fit safely in our expert’s vehicle either – can you spot what is wrong with the fitment of this seat in this vehicle?

 


Mamas and Papa's in car 002

 

So, is this seat safe?

 

No.


This seat is not a safe or suitable child restraint to use.  It is unlikely to be able to pass crash testing,  it has a small seat shell meaning it won't last very long and the seat provides no side impact protection.

Second hand car seats pose a huge threat to children's safety - don't let a child you know be put in danger! Raise awareness!


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VAT on child car seats

What do you think the VAT rate is for child car seats?


0%?

jodiekidd1



Child car seats carry a VAT rate of 5% on them – according to Halfords that costs parents £31 million a year.  That’s an extra addition for parents to pay for an essential piece of baby equipment – one that is a legal requirement.

 

The Law


The law states that all children under the age of 12 years or 135cm in height must legally use a child restraint suitable for their size and weight when travelling in a car, van or goods vehicle.  There are very few exceptions to this law – to read more on the exceptions click here.

 

Why should parents pay extra?

 


jodiekidd2

 

You can’t put a price on your child’s life.  Ask any parent and they will do everything they can to keep their child safe in the car, however the cost of child car seats can seem prohibitive to many parents, which is why so many are buying online or second hand.

Good Egg Safety has checked more child car seats than any other organisation and from 10,000 car seat checks, we have found an average incorrect fitment rate of 54%.  This has risen over the last 3 years - along with the increased trend of buying online, but also second hand.  Increasing numbers of parents are accepting hand me downs and buying from auction sites, as they want to get their child a good quality seat, but at an affordable price.

 

What would it mean to parents and carers?


Not having to pay VAT on car seats essentially means more money in your pocket – but it also means that parents and carers may be able to afford to get a better seat, or two seats so they don’t have to swap between cars, which carries a risk of incorrectly fitting the seat.  It may mean parents and carers will be able to afford to visit a store for advice, rather than having to purchase online to get an affordable seat, which in turn will help keep their children safer.

When you think of how much you spend on seats through your child’s car seat years, 5% off each purchase would soon add up!

 

What’s happened so far?


Halfords have launched a campaign to have VAT removed from child car seats, and have written to the Treasury to raise this issue.  The Treasury responded to inform them that the 5% VAT rate on child restraints is not an option to remove, as VAT changes are dictated by the agreement of all EU member states.

Yet this tax costs parents in the UK £31 million a year.  That doesn’t include grandparents and other carers who may also purchase seats for children they look after.  Halfords have responded to the letter with the following statement:

“We understand that the EU has a deliberately complex process to prevent the introduction of any new zero rates, however we believe it’s unfair that families are being charged VAT for essential safety equipment and we’re standing up for all families currently paying more than they need to” – Emma Fox, Commercial Director, Halfords.

 

What can you do?


Halfords are running a Zero VAT campaign, they have a petition set up here.  You can sign the petition link to join the call for the 5% VAT rate on a legally required piece of baby equipment to be removed.

 

 

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Second hand child seats - the dangers...

 

The dangers of second hand child seats

A big concern we have here at Good Egg Safety is the number of seats we see being sold secondhand – be it in a charity shop, car boot sale, online or in the local paper.



2nd hand maxi cosi OL



As part of our ongoing research, our expert has found four secondhand car seats. Throughout November we’ll be running a blog series looking at the dangers these seats pose and the potential risks to children's safety.

If you are a parent or carer and are thinking of buying secondhand, we hope our findings will inspire you to reconsider and choose new!

 

Would you let a stranger look after your baby?

 

 

Stranger Danger

 

Stranger Danger


Imagine if a stranger walked up to you and offered to look after your baby for a few hours.  You've never met them before and have no idea who they are. What would you say?  Your answer of course would be a resounding 'No!'  However well-meaning the stranger may be, you have no guarantee that they would take care of your child. You simply wouldn’t risk it because you have no way of trusting them.

So it is when you buy a secondhand car seat from a stranger.  You only have their word for it that the seat they are selling you will protect your child. You have no way of knowing whether it has been involved in a crash, or even whether it is the right size and type for your child and make of car. Even without realising it, they could be selling you a dangerous – or potentially lethal – seat.

You wouldn’t allow someone you did not know to look after your child without knowing they were thoroughly vetted and qualified. It’s no different when choosing a child car seat.  Buying a used seat from online auction sites may seem like a bargain, but it simply isn’t worth taking the risk.

 

What are the risks?

 


Dangers of Second Hand

 

 

Stay tuned for the first case study blog which will be released on Monday 17th November!


 

 

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Child car seat exceptions

"A child under the age of 3 can travel with no child car seat, if there are two occupied car seats which prevents the fitment of a third."

 

PebbleRubi OL

 

FICTION!


Let's have a look at what the law says in regards to under three's travelling with no child car seat:

"All children under the age of 12 years old or 135cm must travel in an appropriate child restraint. 

Exceptions for children under 3 years of age:

May travel unrestrained in the rear of a taxi or private hire vehicle."

There are no other exceptions that apply to under 3s.  If you have to get three children in your car, they must all be in a suitable child car seat.  It is also vital that the child car seat fit into the car and are fitted correctly.  If you can't get three suitable child car seats in the car,  the children cannot travel in the car.

 

Exceptions for over threes


Over 3s may travel in the rear of the car, and must wear the adult seat belt in the following situations:

    • Two OCCUPIED restraints prevents the fitment of a third.

 

    • When travelling in a taxi or private hire vehicle.

 

    • On short, unexpected journey's of ABSOLUTE necessity.



In all other situations, children must use a suitable child restraint!

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New parents guide to choosing your first baby car seat

Parents to be


Are you a new parent or parent to be?  We've got together all the information new parents need to know when choosing and using their first baby car seat.  Whether you’re a first time expectant parent, or have children already, it’s well worth a read!

 

The Law


The law requires all children under the age of 12 years old or 135cm/4’5’’ to travel in a suitable child restraint.

For kids under 3, there is only one exception to this rule, and that is in taxis.  Babies and children under 3 may travel unrestrained in the back of a taxi – at any other time, they must use a suitable restraint. Of course that doesn’t make holding your baby in the back of a cab safe!  Every effort should always be made to use a child seat, the exception is there for convenience only.

The law requires you to use a suitable child car seat, so what options do you have?

 

Child seat options for your first baby car seat


There are currently two regulations running along side each other, and they will do for some years to come.  Regulation 44 has been around for many years, and R44.04 is the latest amendment to that regulation.  There has been several amendments to R44 - R44.01 and R44.02 are no longer allowed to be used.  An R44.03 seat may be used, but it is very likely the seat will be old.   R44.04 testing focuses on ease of use, fitting, stress testing on components and the crash test is a frontal impact (32mph), rear impact (18mph) and a roll over test.  To select the appropriate stage R44 seat for your child, you must go by their weight first, then their height.

There are three seat options available for your first baby car seat under R44.04: Group 0, Group 0+ and Group 0+1.  Each option offers something different, here’s a comparison:



First Baby Car Seat Comparison

i-Size

There are not many i-Size child car seats currently available from newborn, however they are becoming more readily available.  Some i-Size car seats have a base, which the infant seat can attach to and when the baby is outgrowing the infant seat, you can then buy the i-Size seat to fit to the base.

An i-Size child seat utilises the ISOFIX in your vehicle, and babies must rear face to 15 months in them by law.  i-Size car seats have also gone through mandatory side impact testing and an improved roll over test.  They are also chosen based on your child's height and stature, rather than their weight.

 

What to look out for


The infant seat - group 0+


cabrio

    • Deep, padded side wings.

 

    • A base option.

 

    • A newborn wedge and head hugger that is easily removable.

 

    • Easy adjustment of the harness.



The infant and child seat - Group 0+1


dualfix

    • Deep, padded side wings.

 

    • Easy seat belt routing or ISOFIX.

 

    • A good, reclined position when rear facing.  Some 0/1 seats are too upright for a newborn.

 

    • A newborn insert that gives a more natural lying position, head support and torso support.

 

    • An easily adjusted harness.  This will save lots of time and frustration and is a safer option than a re-thread harness, which carries the risk of the harness not being adjusted correctly or re-threaded incorrectly.



Compatibility

 

Not every child car seat fits every car!


This is very important to remember with every car seat, no matter what stage you are at, whether you are using ISOFIX or the seat belt - there are many fitting issues that can occur.  If you are opting for an ISOFIX 0+1 seat, or just using the seat that comes with the pram, it is essential to ensure the seat not only fits your car, but every car it will be used in. You can find out if your seat fits your car buy visiting a retailer that offers a fitting service to buy your car seat.

 

Warnings!


The '90 minute rule'

If you opt for a group 0+ car seat that fits to your pram, it is essential to know that your baby should spend as little time in their car seat as possible when it is used on the pram.  Infant seats ‘scrunch’ a newborn over, causing their oxygen saturation levels to drop – this leads to a whole host of potential risks, from increased SIDS risk, flat head syndrome, through to ADHD in later life.  It can also effect their spinal development and cause problems in later life.  The website www.babybwell.co.uk has lots of links and information where you can read up on the risks of excessive car seat use.  Wherever possible, use the lie flat part of your pram, not the car seat!

**NOTE: Your baby must ALWAYS use their car seat in the car, even if the journey exceeds 90 minutes.

AIRBAGS

You should never install a rear facing car seat to a seat with an active frontal airbag. Even in low speed crashes the airbag can deploy, smashing into the back of your child’s car seat, giving a very real and high risk of fatal injuries.

 

Taking the baby home


This will probably be the most nerve wracking drive of your life! The best way to ensure you are as relaxed and focused as can be on that first drive is by making sure you are confident with the safety and protection you are giving your new baby in the car.  The first step is to ensure the car seat is compatible with your vehicle, then you need to know how to fit the seat properly – it’s not always as easy as it seems!

Practice fitting the car seat as much as you can before you are due to give birth.  Make absolutely sure everyone who will be fitting the seat is comfortable with it – even if you have bought an ISOFIX seat.  Also check the positioning of the carry handle if you opt for a group 0+ car seat – the handle often needs to be upright or towards baby’s feet to act as a re-bound bar.

Silver Cross OL

The next thing to get right is strapping your baby into the seat. Many parents get this bit wrong, as they are often worried the straps are too tight on the little one and unintentionally put them far too loose as a result!

 Harness use


Newborn Insert 1

 

The harness needs to be level with or just below your baby’s shoulders and tight enough that you can get two fingers flat between your baby’s chest and the harness strap.

 

Clothing


how to correctly restrain a newborn 013

 

It can be tempting to wrap your baby up tight when they first go in their car seat, but it’s very important that all blankets, jackets and snowsuits are removed before your baby is strapped in. To keep them warm, dress them in thin layers, then add a thin blanket once baby is strapped in. This blanket should be no higher than armpit level.

 

Remember – your car will soon heat up, and a heavily swaddled or wrapped up baby will soon be an overheating, unhappy and sweaty baby!

 

Accessories

 

Mamas-and-Papas-bed-wrap-around-toys-Activity-Spiral-Stroller-and-Car-Seat-Toy-Ladybug

 

We all love cute accessories, and you may want to add some cute toys to your baby’s seat, or interactive toys as they get older. This is fine to do, but ensure the toys are securely attached, and that they do not interfere with the seat, the fitment or use in any way and also make sure they are soft. In a crash, all loose items in the car become projectile – loose toys can become lethal.

 

Mirror

 

302846800 Brica Car Mirror 1


This is an essential accessory for any Mum, Dad or Grandparent! See me mirrors are ideal for helping to calm those nerves and can keep you focused on driving. They let you glimpse the baby in the rear view mirror so you can drive knowing that your baby is safe and well in their seat.



first baby car seat - top tips

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Can I add a cushion to my child's booster seat?

Can I put a cushion on the booster seat?


A recent Ask the Expert question:

“My child complains that the booster seat is too hard and that it hurts their bum. I have noticed that the seat is very hard, there’s no padding at all. Can I add a cushion to the seat to make it more comfy?”

We have also had this enquiry in the past:

"My 3 year old keeps escaping from the 5 point harness, so he has moved to a high back booster seat with adult seat belt.  The seat belt sits up on his neck though, even when it's through the red guide.  Can I put a cushion under him to lift him up more so it doesn't rub on his neck?"

Example of what we've seen at our free car seat checking events

 

Booster seat     Booster seat 1

 

(NOTE: above pictures would be considered incorrectly fitted)

 

This blog is going to look at the potential risks involved in adding a cushion to the booster seat, and what else you can do to make the seat more comfortable.


In infant seats, group 1 seats and group 123 car seats, you normally find that the seat has some sort of insert in it that can be removed as the child grows. This doesn’t happen with high back boosters however, the seat comes as is, and it grows with your child by increasing the height of the head support.

When a child moves up to a high back booster (group 2,3) car seat, the booster is used as a belt positioning device. It lifts the child up so the adult seat belt will fit across their hips correctly. Booster seats nowadays go a step further than this, with many offering additional torso support and side impact protection.

 

What would the risks be if I put a cushion on the booster seat?


The potential risk is that the cushion would compress in an impact and cause the child to slip underneath the seat belt. This may cause them to be ejected from the seat belt, or receive greater injuries due to the belt not being positioned correctly.

 

I need to put a cushion on though, as my 3 year old doesn’t fit, and he can’t go in a harness seat because he escapes!


If a child has moved up to a high back booster seat they must weigh a minimum of 15kg, and be tall enough to fit within the seat belt – this is defined as the lap belt being flat over the lap, across the hips, and the shoulder belt running from the child’s hip to their shoulder. The shoulder belt should sit diagonally across their body and run level across their collar bone/shoulder. It shouldn’t slip off the shoulder (head rest too low) or sit up on their neck (head rest too high).

If a child doesn’t physically fit into the booster seat, then they are too small for it and are not able to safely use the seat. The child must return to their harness seat, or a seat with impact shield may work better. See our blog on the car seat harness for tips on how to stop your little one escaping.

 

How can the seat be made more comfortable?


If you do long journeys with your child, you may want to consider replacing their seat with something more padded – there are differences between the boosters and what comfort they can offer. Some boosters are very hard, which won’t be at all pleasant on a long journey!

We would not suggest padding a seat out with memory foam or DIY inserts – these have not been crash tested and there is just no way of knowing how they will effect the performance of a seat until you have a crash.

 

What about an adult seat cushion?


There are many cushions available for the adult vehicle seat, but these are mainly to assist with posture and back issues. They have not been developed or tested to be used with a child restraint and may effect the performance of the seat.



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Killer car seats - Do you have one?

Fake child car seats are being sold in the UK via online auction websites


 

It has recently come to light that fabric ‘child car seats’ are being sold on popular selling sites.

Many parents and childminders throughout the UK are being fooled into believing that these child car seats are safe to use for their children.

We had a look through one of these sites and read some of the sales posts - here’s an extract from one description on a seat we found:



dodgy seat

 

“The portable baby safety seat is treated as the savior of baby’s safety in Europe and a new star among the family of baby car seats. The restricted and reasonable design, it is not only as safe as the traditional baby car seats but also to install, carry and wash easily.”

The manufacturers/sellers are claiming that these seats are just as safe as traditional car seats.  Many people believe that if they’re allowed to be sold, then surely they must be just as safe – and surely they must have gone through all the same testing to be able to claim that?

 

The very sad fact is that the manufacturers/sellers of these killer car seats are lying.


 

These seats have been through NO official crash testing to allow them to be used in the UK.  When Surrey County Council's trading standards team put these harnesses through their paces, the results were horrifying... they will bring a tear to any parents’ eye and send a shiver down their spine! (video above)

 

So what tests do seats have to pass to be sold in the UK/EU?


Any child seat sold in the UK must pass at least ECE R44.04, R44.03 or R129 i-Size and carry an approval label to show that it has been through the testing. The approval label will be on the child car seat in the form of an orange, yellow or white label. Below we have included several examples of official approval labels.



ECE BRIAX EXPLAIN

 

Approval R44.04: This part of the label will list what approval standard the seat has been tested to. In the UK and Europe, seats tested to R44.03, R44.04 or R129 i-Size may be used.

Weight Limits: The label will also detail the weight limit of the seat. This seat is a high back booster group 2,3 so the weight limit is 15kg – 36kg.  If the seat is R129 i-Size, a height limit will be detailed.

E–circle: This shows the seat is tested to the European standard. The E stands for European and the number after it refers to the country it was tested in.

Serial Number: This number relates to the seat itself, the first two numbers “04301170” on this seat, refers to the approval the seat has (so an R44.03 seat will have “03____”) This number relates to where everything on the seat was sourced, what batch the harness and buckles came from, what machines and who manufactured it. If there is any requirement to do a recall on the seat or if anything is found to be wrong, this number is used to narrow down exactly what seats are affected. Under R44.04, every 5000th seat must be re-tested to ensure quality – this allows any faults to be picked up quickly and easily.

 

Other examples


ECE LabelOL

ECE Maxi Cosi OL

R44.03 OL

red 44.04OL

Graco 44.03 OL

 

R129 iSize Label



These fabric seats do not carry this label, and they have not been approved to any crash standard for the EU/UK.

That’s not to say that other seats sold online are official either.  The Transport Research Laboratory released footage of counterfeit child car seats sold online, and these fake seats DO carry approval labels – albeit false ones!

 

Check out the fake seats in this episode of Fake Britain

 

Top tips for getting a good quality seat!



    • NEVER buy a second hand car seat that you do not know the full history of or if you are not 100% sure that it will fit into your car.

 

    • Always try and purchase at a retailer who can give you advice and check fitment – many retailers have budget seat options if money is tight.

 

    • If you have to buy online, only buy from a reputable retailer - and always find out what is suitable for your car and child first!

 

    • Check for the ECE label or i-Size label.

 

    • If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

 

    • If you are thinking of buying a seat you haven’t heard of before, go online and look for reviews, visit the manufacturers website and use search engines to find out more on the company.

 

    • Check the instructions – instructions must be written in English (and will have other languages) – ensure the English is good and written correctly.  Mis-spelt words and sentences that don’t make sense can be indicators to a fake seat!



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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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Car seat regulation labels

ECE R44.03

 

ECE R44.03 label

 

ECE R44.04


                                                          ECE R44.04 Label

 

R129 i-Size label

 

R129 iSize Label

 

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