A fifth of parents break car seat law

Millions of Britain’s parents are flouting car seat laws, according to a survey conducted in advance of National Child Safety Week. The survey, by Britax, found that one in five often let their children travel without sitting in a car seat and a quarter of parents do not even know how to fit their child’s seat securely.

The most common problems parents face are difficulty in getting the seat to feel sturdy, not being able to pull the seatbelt round and not knowing where the seatbelt goes.

As well as difficulty in understanding how to fit car seats, one in ten parents admitted they were “too lazy” to ensure their children are sitting safely in a car seat at all times. Almost a third said they didn’t always have time, while a similar amount don’t feel that car seats are necessary, and a fifth would be happy to let their child travel in a car with someone who didn’t provide a car seat – despite the law stating all children under the age of 12 must use some form of car seat unless they are taller than 135cm (4ft 5in).

The government introduced the law in 2006 to reduce the number deaths and injuries caused to children involved in car crashes, and it was hoped that it could save up to 2,000 children’s lives a year. But five years on, less than 40 per cent of parents actually understand the legal requirements when it comes to putting their children in car seat. What’s more, the Britax survey shows less than half of parents had their car seats fitted properly, and most admitted to forgoing safety and buying a cheap option rather than the best one for their child’s size.

The survey also set out to find out how many parents knew about the ISOFIX system, which enables a compatible care seat to be secured by simply clicking the frame into anchoring points built into the car, rather than using an adult seatbelt. Half of all respondents in the survey did not know what ISOFIX was.

The system is easy to use and is designed to make it very difficult to install incorrectly – the anchoring technology also means that the seat is connected securely to the car, reducing the impact of forces in a crash by controlling energy management. As of February 2012, the ISOFIX system will be required by law to be integrated into a minimum number of seats in all new cars.

Mark Bennett, Child Safety Expert at Britax, commented, “It’s very worrying that this research has revealed that so many parents are breaking the law by not securing children in the car properly. Parents are always hectic and being in a rush is something we can all sympathise with. But it’s imperative that parents take note and adhere to the laws set in place to ensure their children’s safety when travelling in a car.

“Car seats which are installed incorrectly will not be as effective in protecting a child in the event of a collision, so it’s very important that we encourage parents to use car seats correctly every time. That’s why we want to spread the word about ISOFIX – an incredibly quick and easy to use system which is almost impossible to get wrong.”

Adrian Walsh of RoadSafe said, “RoadSafe’s mission is to reduce deaths and injuries on Britain’s roads, so we’re concerned that this vital message about child safety laws and the importance of using a car seat gets through to parents in the UK.

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