At the end of last year, a Road Safety Education Report revealed the findings of children’s car seat clinics carried out across Aberdeenshire between June and September 2014.
Out of 244 car seats checked, 78% were incorrectly fitted and 40 of the seats had major faults.
The checks were carried out as part of the Good Egg Safety campaign which provides information and advice on in-car child safety.
We spoke to Transport Safety Education Officer Lucy Cramb about the car seat clinics and asked her advice on how to fit your child’s car seat correctly.
Q: Hi Lucy! Where were the car seat clinics undertaken and where specifically did they take place in Kincardine and Mearns?
A: Hello! The clinics took place at 14 public locations such as supermarkets and leisure centres in each of the six areas of Aberdeenshire. In K&M, we held a clinic at ASDA in Portlethen. People who parked in the Parent and Toddler spaces were offered car seat checks and advice free of service.
Q: How many car seats did you check at Portlethen and how many were incorrectly fitted?
A: We checked 22 seats at Portlethen and 16 were incorrectly fitted – quite significant numbers really, which are reflective of the whole of Aberdeenshire.
Q: So what are the main things people are getting wrong when fitting their children’s car seats then? Are there any common faults?
A: Yes there are, most of which can be easily corrected. The main ones are:
- Slack and twisted seatbelts and harnesses – seats should not move and harnesses tightened so that only two fingers can slide under them.
- Handles of baby carriers in wrong position for travelling – this can affect the stability of the carrier during a crash.
- Seat incompatible with car.
- Moving child up to next stage too soon (not up to correct weight, removing back of seat)
- Incorrect routing of seatbelts.
Q: Do you have any top tips for fitting your children’s car seat correctly?
- Check the seat is compatible with your vehicle and is suitable for your child’s weight, height and age. Many manufacturers have “Fit Finders” on their websites.
- Buy from a reputable retailer and ask them to fit the seat in your vehicle (and any other vehicle you will use). Seats should be tightly fitted with no movement.
- Avoid second hand or out of date seats (current regulation is ECE R44.04). Their structures may have been weakened by a previous impact.
- Avoid booster cushions as seats without back and side protection allow their occupants to make contact with the inside of the vehicle in a manner which can cause serious or fatal injuries. The back allows the seatbelt to lie in the correct position over the shoulder. Seats without backs will become illegal by 2018.
- Follow fitting instructions on side of seat and in book.
- We recommend that all car seats are fitted in the rear of vehicles as injuries from passenger air bags can be serious.
Q: Would you encourage parents to get their children’s car seats checked?
A: Yes definitely. Incorrectly fitted seats can increase the risk of injury or sometimes be fatal and these clinics give parents a valuable opportunity to have their car seats checked for free. You can also seek advice on fitting your car seat from the retailers – we advise not to buy your car seat online or from supermarkets. The Good Egg website also provides good advice: http://www.goodeggcarsafety.com/scotland/
Q: When are the next car seat clinics taking place?
A: The next clinics are taking place from the end of May until September 2015 to coincide with the Good Egg campaign. They will be publicised through health visitors, local press and the Good Egg Website and social media channels.