The AA is warning all parents and child minders to make sure children are safely secured in the car. Advice from The AA, released today, offers motorists who transport children helpful tips on buying, fitting and securing child car seats.
“According to the Road Safety Authority, about three out of every four child car seats are not fitted properly and this is extremely serious,” says Conor Faughnan Director of Consumer Affairs at The AA.
If you are buying or fitting a child car seat, The AA has some great advice to talk you through the motions from purchase to securing your child.
Before you buy
Under EU child safety protection laws, drivers must ensure that all passengers under the age of 17 use the correct seatbelt, seat, booster seat or booster cushion. Remember though, to use the seat appropriately depending on the age of the child. Never buy online unless it’s from a well-known and reputable retailer. Only buy second-hand from a trusted friend or family member so you know its history. It’s best to buy child car seats in a local retailer so they can help you choose the right one and they can show you how to fit it.
In the shop
Ask the shop assistant for help choosing the correct seat for your child. Make sure they also show you how to fit the car seat and allow you to practice. Depending on your car, the seat may be fitted to a set of sockets in the car (the IsoFix system), or you may need to use the adults belts to secure the child seat. You will need to practice strapping the seat in to make sure that you can do so correctly every single time. Make sure you try the seat in every seating position so you can be sure the seatbelt is long enough.
After you buy
Firstly, register your car seat online if you have that option. This means that you will be contacted by the manufacturer if the model is recalled. It makes it easier to get refunds, replacements or repairs. Always read the instructions before fitting the car seat. Thinking you know what you’re doing, is not the same, as actually knowing what you’re doing. There is better protection for a baby’s head, neck and spine in rearward-facing seats rather than forward-facing seats, so keep your baby in a rearward-facing seat for as long as possible. Once they have exceeded the maximum weight or height for the baby seat then you will have to move them to a forward-facing seat.
Securing child safety
A car seat that is insufficiently reclined may also be harmful as the baby’s head will flop forward. However, never tilt the car seat more than 45 degrees back. Never use blankets towels or other padding under or behind the baby. Put the shoulder straps in the lowest possible position; either at the baby’s shoulders or below them. Under EU child protection laws, rearward-facing child car seats are not allowed in the front passenger seat where there is an active airbag as the child’s head is too close to it. If you have to move the child car seat into a different car you will need to make sure that it is secure each time but if you’re with The AA you can simply drive the car with the car seats already in it and know you have fully comprehensive insurance.