New study shows alarming results
Between July and October 2018, Maxi-Cosi, together with French and Dutch road safety organizations - Association Prévention Routière and Veiligheid - conducted field studies on child car seat installation in cars across France and the Netherlands. In cooperation with local enforcement teams, over 750 children aged from birth to 11 years old who were travelling in a car were checked in car parks at shopping centres, playgrounds and theme parks.
The results of the study are alarming: although the majority of drivers were convinced children were safe in their car , 2 out of 3 children were not properly restrained and a staggering 51% of all children were not restrained at all or serious mistakes put their lives at risk in the event of an accident. In the Netherlands the numbers are even higher with 83% of children not properly restrained in cars, putting them in serious danger in a car crash.
Car seat misuse study results
Parents in a hurry put safety at risk
Parents love their children and want them to be safe. That’s one of the reasons they’ll research extensively online and in-store before buying a child car seat. But when it comes to actually putting the child in the seat, it’s a different story. Getting your child ready for a journey can be stressful, and parents often find themselves in a hurry – so it’s not surprising so many are getting it wrong.
Safety issues for all age groups: the study found problems across the ages
Babies: 75% of baby car seats installed with a seat belt weren’t fastened properly, which could seriously endanger babies in a car crash. Baby car seats are frequently taken in and out of cars when used with travel systems, so it may be that parents are rushing when they’re fastening the seat belts.
During the checks, many belted car seats were found to have incorrect belt routing, seat belts were twisted or car seats were not fastened at all. Poorly fitted car seats will not provide adequate protection in a car collision or rollover.
There were twice as many installation mistakes in belted car seats compared to ISOFIX fitted seats.
Toddlers: Over half of 1-to-4 year-olds weren’t restrained properly in cars, and in many cases, toddlers had found their way out of harnesses. The study found that over 50% of toddlers wriggled out of their seat’s shoulder straps, meaning that the car seat buckle wasn’t fitting tightly enough.
Older children: The study found 25% of 5-year-olds** travel without a booster seat despite the fact that it is mandatory to use one until a child is 135cm tall. This means older children are most at risk, often because parents think they no longer need a safety seat. This could have dramatic consequences during a car crash – car accidents remain the main cause of death for children under 10. Even when they do have a booster seat, many 5 to 11-year-olds aren’t strapped in properly. Parents often let their children strap themselves in, but the children don’t do it correctly and the parents don’t check.
Short trips matter too
Car seat misuse is as common during short trips as it on longer trips, the study shows. And installation mistakes happen no matter what age or gender the driver is and what level of education they have. However, when the driver isn’t the parent there is an even greater risk of children being put in car seats incorrectly***
Maxi-Cosi’s new child-on-board checklists help parents get it right every trip
Using the results of the study as a starting point, Maxi-Cosi is tackling car seat misuse by optimizing the information about car seat safety available. To address the most common mistakes, Maxi-Cosi has developed child-on-board safety checklists for parents to keep in the car or on your phone and created simple car seat installation key points videos.
Maxi-Cosi’s advice for safe car travel with children
- Go to a baby store to have your child car seat fitted in your own car so you can see how to do it correctly.
- It is safer for babies to travel rearward-facing for as long as possible, and at least until they are 15 months old.
- Children aged 5 and over might not be babies any more but they still need a car seat until they are 135cm tall or 12 years old. Booster seats with backrests for extra safety are recommended.
- Go for an IsoFix system to make installation much easier. You won’t have to battle with seat belts and you’ll have the reassurance of knowing that the seat is secured properly.
- When using belted car seats, thread the seat belt following the color-coded seat belt guides as shown on the seat/in the user manual. Make sure there are no twists in the belt.
* 329 children from birth up to 11 years old checked in France in collaboration with Association Prévention Routière and 470 children from birth up to 8 years old checked in the Netherlands in collaboration with the Child Safety Task Force and Veiligheid.nl
** Figures from French study
*** Conclusion from facts recorded in Dutch study in partnership with Veiligheid.nl