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 eBay – 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 on eBay stated:
"The seat has never been involved in an accident, is in good condition and suitable from 0-6 months.
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. 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. 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.
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?
So, is this seat safe?
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!