Is the child seat in your car correctly fitted? Kent County Council Road Safety advice

by KentOnline reporter

Sponsored Editorial: Produced in association with Kent County Council

Are you aware of the dangers of babies and children travelling in cars while inadequately restrained?

With recent county figures revealing that a shocking 70% plus of all baby and child car seats checked across Kent are incorrectly fitted, a new awareness campaign will soon be launched to highlight the dangers and provide advice on anything which puts a child at risk while travelling in a car.

KCC Road Safety has just launched its latest campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of unrestrained babies and children travelling in cars.

Before reading this article, can you answer the following questions?

  1. How tight should the harness be – able to insert to fingers, or your hand, under the harness around the collarbone?
  2. What is buckle crunch?
  3. Do you know the criteria for children not needing to travel in a high back booster seat?
  4. Is a rearward or forwardfacing car seat safest?
Is a rearward or forwardfacing car seat safest?
Is a rearward or forwardfacing car seat safest?

They Trust You to Keep Them Safe is about increasing adult knowledge of the correct restraints and seating to be used for children.

It has been evidenced that 70-80% of child car seats checked can be incorrectly fitted, from a minor adjustment like a harness needing tightening to more major problems such as incorrect seat for a particular car, a broken seat or wrong size seat for a child.

When doing research to look for the most appropriate seat, remember rearward facing is far safer and some seats allow for children up to four years of age to travel this way.

KCC’s Road Safety team usually runs free car seat clinics to give advice and check the safety and condition of car seats, but, due to Covid, this is not possible.

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However, we have a great opportunity for you...

On Tuesday, February 2, KCC will host a Virtual Consultation Day with a car seat expert from 10am to 3pm.

Each FREE consultation will last up to 30 minutes and consist of a WhatsApp video call to discuss any concerns you may have. This is only open to residents of Kent and we can accommodate 10 consultations.

You can book your consultation via a booking at system - goodeggsafety.simplybook.it

You will be asked for some background information so please have your child’s height, weight and car seat details to hand.. This is an advisory service to give you the opportunity to video chat with an expert directly.

We advise that you have someone manage the phone/tablet during the consultation so that you can clearly explain your questions regarding your car seat.

Please bear in mind the current tier restrictions, so it may mean that an additional person needs to be from your household or support bubble.

Be quick as there are only 10 spaces for this great opportunity

Find out how to fit your child's car seat correctly on Tuesday, February 2
Find out how to fit your child's car seat correctly on Tuesday, February 2

In 2019, we checked 150 seats at our free clinics and just under 80% were incorrectly fitted, with both minor and major faults. One particular fault is an incorrectly fitted harness and sometimes a minor adjustment to the harness can mean the difference between life and death.

Too loose and the child may not be protected in the event of a crash, and too tight or at the wrong height could be uncomfortable for the child.

However, please be aware that harnesses should only allow two fingers to be slipped underneath around the collar bone to ensure the harness holds the child in securely, and some parents are surprised how tight this may feel.

Children should not wear padded coats in their car seat as the air can compress around the straps in the event of a collision and the child may not be adequately secured.

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FIVE seat buying tips

  1. Make sure the car seat is approved for your vehicle
  2. Check the child’s age, weight and height
  3. Try to buy the seat from a retailer who has trained staff
  4. Have the seat demonstrated in your car before you purchase
  5. Make sure the retailer shows you how to use the seat and its features
Buying a car seat? Have the seat demonstrated in your car before you purchase
Buying a car seat? Have the seat demonstrated in your car before you purchase

FIVE usage tips

  1. Read the instructions to fit the seat correctly
  2. Check harness height and move up where necessary
  3. Harness tension should be the flat of two fingers under the collarbone
  4. Keep your child rear facing for as long as possible
  5. Max out the seat in age, weight and height

Check out our facebook page for more information or to watch our short videos showing some of the major problems found when checking child car seats.

One will show and explain what buckle crunch is.

They Trust You to Keep Them Safe is about increasing adult knowledge of the correct restraints and seating to be used for children.
They Trust You to Keep Them Safe is about increasing adult knowledge of the correct restraints and seating to be used for children.

We recommend getting advice from retailers and vehicle manufacturers if you have concerns. Always check with the retailer that they have trained fitters available to demonstrate the seat in the car before purchasing. See the table on our website suggesting questions you should ask retailers.

The safe restraining of children in vehicles is vital to help save lives. Failure to comply with current car seat safety laws carries up to a £500 penalty.

Remember, an unrestrained child can take on the weight of a baby elephant in the event of a crash!

Our website also has advice on choosing a seat and questions you should ask your retailer before purchasing.

Let’s not forget the older children who still need to be safely secured in a high back booster seat until they are aged 12 or 135cm in height, whichever comes first.

Finally, and this may seem an unusual subject for a night-time story, but children may enjoy Teddy’s Bedtime Story. It's available to view below and it may help parents to reinforce their knowledge on the Car Seat rules.

Remember, They Trust You to Keep Them Safe

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