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"Check It Fits," Car Seat Safety Campaign

Tuesday, 25 September 2007


A recent check of 1,000 vehicles found that 83% of child car seats were installed incorrectly. With this in mind we have safety expert Mark Bennet to tell us all about the "Check It Fits" car seat safety campaign.

The Check it Fits roadshow is back and will visit six locations nationwide from Saturday (29th Sep). At each roadshow venue, parents, grand-parents and carers are invited to get their child car seats checked for free by UK and Irish Car Child Seat Installation experts.

The Road Safety Authority plans to tour the country on a more regular basis with the 'Check it Fits' Roadshow. Specifically to:

. Provide parents and guardians with an opportunity to have experts check their child car seats to see if they are compatible with the child / car and that are they being correctly installed.
. To do this, the RSA has recruited car seat installation experts from the UK and Ireland who will visit six locations nationwide with the 'Check it Fits' information roadshow.

About "Check It Fits"

The 'Check it Fits' Roadshow will take place from September 29th to October 5th in 6 venues nationwide. Essentially what happens is that car seat installation experts from the UK and Ireland, visit the venues (either a retail park or shopping centre) and set up a facility whereby a child car seat installation expert will check the car seat to see if it is compatible with the car and with the child.

While we have seen the demonstration of installing different seats today, each seat and car is different. If you are at all in doubt, check it fits!

Between 1998 and 2005 a total of 3,354 children under 14 years of age were killed or injured as car passengers in road crashes in Ireland. Child car passengers account for 57% of all child road user casualties on our roads. According to Road Safety Authority surveys of seat belt wearing rates, many parents still do not restrain their children properly when travelling in a car. In fact 36% of primary school children travel unrestrained in the rear of a car.

Since the introduction of an EU Directive in September 2006, it is now mandatory for all children up to 150cms in height (roughly 11/ 12 year of age) to be restrained in an appropriate child restraint. This means using a child car seat, booster seat or booster cushion.There is no research to indicate the extent of child car seat usage by children in this country. However as there are still almost 4 out of 10 parents failing to ensure their children are using a seatbelt, further awareness raising activity is required to educate parents and guardians on the use of child car restraints.

While failing to secure children properly in cars is a problem in this country, research carried out at the RSA's Check it Fits Roadshow in Sept 05 indicates that of those parents who do restrain their children in child car seats as many as 4 out of 5 are fitted incorrectly. In addition a third could cause serious injury to a child. Many parents feel that selecting the right child car seat and installing it properly is not as straightforward as it seems. Parents and carers are not being advised properly so mistakes are being made. Many child car seats are incompatible with the car, with the child or simply fitted incorrectly. Parents move their babies from a rearward facing child car seat to a forward facing one too soon and they let their children upgrade to using a seatbelt too early.

Car Seats And Installation

Rear - facing car seat

. These are for newborn babies to approx 9 months depending on seat and size of child.
. Make sure the seat complies with EC4403 - the international safety standards.
. The seat must be compatible with your car and suitable for the height and weight of your child.
. As a child of this age can't support their own head, the seat needs to give good support.
. The angle of recline on the seat needs to be adjustable to suit the needs of the child.

Forward - facing car seat

. This seat is normally for a child over 9 months and over 9 kilos (approx 20lbs)
. The child has to be able to sit unaided and support it's own head before being placed in a forward- facing car seat.
. The seat should have side impact protection.
. It should have an adjustable harness so the seat can grow with your child.
. It should have a recline.

There are 2 ways these seats can be installed: with a seat belt, with a seat belt and tensioner and with isofix. Isofix means that you plug the seat into a chassis. It is a new standard for installing child seats into cars, which is being adopted by vehicle manufacturers and is intended to make fitting child seats quick and simple. While it is becoming a standard, not all cars have this yet.

Booster Seat

Mark will indicate what to look for when choosing this seat.

. The purpose of these seats is to raise the child off the car seat.
. The child generally weighs between 15 and 36 kilos in this seat and is over 7.
. The seat has no back on it.

New Products - Safe Strap Seat

The other area that parents get it wrong is when they tighten the child seat harness. Until recently there has been no clear way in which to measure this but the Safe Strap device can quite simply tell parents when they have the harness at the correct tension. However, it doesn't stop there, on many occasions the child will be struggling when you put them in the child seat, you pull the harness tight but once they have settled down in the seat there may be slack present and Safe-Strap will indicate this, warning the parent that they need to re-tighten the harness. On seats without Safe- Strap you might never be aware that the child is not secured correctly.

For More Information