How to ensure your child's car seat is correctly fitted as RSA reveals majority offer no protection in event of a crash
Our Road Safety Authority expert outlines why they want to check every single child car seat
Four in five child car seats are fitted incorrectly.
The majority are so badly fitted they would provide little or no protection in the event of a crash.
This is based on an analysis of 21,000 seats that RSA experts checked as part of the Check it Fits roadshow since 2013.
While this is a worrying number of badly installed seats, the people coming along probably did so because they knew something was wrong in the first place.
But still it's worrying that so many are incorrect.
The most common errors seen at Check it Fits are:
1. The seatbelt fitting around the child car seat is too loose, causing it to move about.
The seatbelt should be routed around the seat with no slack, so it can hold the seat solidly in position.
2. The seatbelt is routed incorrectly through the child car seat. If the seatbelt is not correctly routed, it will not hold the seat in position effectively, or not at all in the event of hard braking or a crash.
It's so important to follow the instructions that guide the seatbelt through the child car seat. Ideally you should get the retailer to show you how to do this.
3. Buckle Crunch. This is when the seatbelt buckle is resting up against the side of the child car seat.
The danger here is that vibrations caused while the car is in motion may accidentally release the seat belt form the buckle.
4. The handle on the rearward child car seat is not positioned correctly.
This handle is more than just a convenient way to carry the seat. It acts as a rebound barrier in the event of a crash.
If the handle is not positioned according to the manufacturer's guidelines it may not perform as it should in a crash.
For it to work properly it needs to be positioned correctly.
5. The seat is too big or too small for the child. The seat will only protect a child if it's appropriate to the child's height and weight.
Rearward seats cover babies up to 13kg; forward seats cover children up to 18kg; booster seats cover children up to 25kg; and booster cushions up to 36kg.
6. Child seat is not compatible with the car. The best safety-rated car in the world and the best child car seat in the world my not necessarily work together.
That's why it's important to have a retailer check the child seat will fit in your car and that the child is compatible with the seat.
7. Child seat has exceeded the manufacturer's recommendation for use.
Some manufacturers apply an expiry date to their seats. Generally speaking this can range from five to 10 years. Best advice is to consult the instruction manual.
8. Child moves to the next level too early. All too often we see children who have been moved from a rearward-facing child seat to a forward-facing one, and from a forward to a booster seat too early.
It is so important to keep your child in the correct seat for their height and weight for as long as possible.
We always recommend that you avoid using a second-hand child car seat, unless you know its history.
If you do, make sure you know how to fit it.
The RSA's Check it Fits Roadshow is just one way to do this.
We visit locations nationwide all year round and our experts can give you the peace of mind that it's fitted correctly.
Thanks to a new partnership arrangement with Toyota Ireland, we are going to check more than 10,000 child car seats during 2017.
Toyota and the RSA's ultimate ambition is to check every single child car seat in Ireland.
* You can find out where the Check it Fits service is visiting.
Plus get tips and videos on the correct use of child-car seats at checkitfits.ie