Child seats 'not

fitted correctly'

Child seat fitting

NEW research claims that more than eight in 10 drivers are putting children's safety at risk by failing to fit child car seats correctly.

The investigation, carried out in conjunction with Leicestershire Police, Child Seat Safety Ltd and What Car? magazine, found that only 15 per cent of the child car seats assessed were fitted correctly and were appropriate to the children being carried in them.

Of 85 seats analysed at random, in 51 cars only 31 were fitted correctly and, when the suitability and fitting of the child were taken into account, that figure dropped to just 13.

Three-quarters of the incorrectly fitted seats inspected were able to be rectified on site but four seats - five per cent of the sample - were condemned, with two being removed immediately and replaced before onward travel was permitted.

While car seats with Isofix attachments were all correctly installed, those that used the seatbelt as a restraint caused the most problems. The most common issue was with the harness or seatbelt restraining the seat being too loose, twisted or incorrectly positioned.

Up to the age of 12 years, when it is assumed that children will be able to use the seatbelts fitted in a car, the driver is responsible for ensuring thatan appropriate child restraint is fitted and that it is being used correctly.

Steve Huntingford,What Car? editor, said: "It's clear that the overwhelming majority of drivers are aware of their responsibilities when carrying a child in the car. But, unless the child car seats have Isofix attachments, there is confusion over how to correctly fit them and ensure your child's safety.

"At best, drivers could land themselves with a £100 fixed penalty notice, but at worst they are significantly increasing the risk of death or serious injury to their children. It's a form of Russian roulette that drivers are playing."

Child Seat Safety co-director, Julie Dagnall, added: "The evidence from this study was that the overwhelming majority of drivers were exposing the children in their cars to significantly increased risk.

"It is important to raise awareness of this issue and to offer parents and other drivers carrying children the correct information and guidance."

Few of those surveyed had sought professional guidance in selecting their child seats, and fewer still had retained contact with the retailers or manufacturers of their child seats.

Steve Huntingford added: "Parents and carers often go to great lengths to ensure the safety of children in many aspects of daily life, and it is shocking that the proportion of unsafe child restraints in their cars was so high."

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