Studies show that up to 80pc of Irish car seats are incorrectly fitted
Car crashes account for around 36pc of all child deaths in Ireland
An award-winning Irish expert has issued an urgent new warning to parents over the potential dangers of child seats in their cars.
Christine Carolan, whose Cosynest invention recently came tops in high-speed crash tests at the UK's Transport Research Laboratory, warns how road deaths are the leading cause of child mortality in Ireland.
Road traffic collisions account for more than 36pc of all child deaths, she says.
At the same time, the Road Safety Authority estimates as many as four-in-five car seats are currently incorrectly fitted.
Christine issued her plea as a new report by WhatCar? shows how parents can put their children's lives at risk by fitting the wrong seats.
The whole area of safely carrying children in cars continues to prompt alerts such as those from Christine and WhatCar? as report after report discovers high percentages of seats incorrectly fitted - or totally unsuitable for their young occupants.
Such potentially dangerous oversights and shortcomings are in contrast to the hyper concentration of occupant-safety items now either mandatory or being fitted in cars generally.
Christine designed the Cosynest suit because she was unhappy with the way child seats and conventional baby suits performed - with her own babies' safety in mind.
She told 'Independent Motors': "I was horrified by the number of car crashes involving children; 262 children were killed in Ireland between 1997 and 2012.
"And another 1,115 were severely injured." She added: "One-in-10 of those children wasn't even wearing a seat belt or a child restraint."
She appealed to parents to buy car seats from shops that provide an advisory service and urged them to learn how to fit them properly.
Her advice echoes that of a recent WhatCar? survey which highlighted the need to physically sample seats and get expert advice rather than order them on-line.
The researchers said taking the latter route is like taking part in a lottery.
They concluded that buying in-store is the only way to maximise children's safety in the car.
Christine continued: "I am really calling on parents to learn how to keep their babies safe.
"We put such an emphasis on all aspects of child safety but we fall down badly on the car seat issue.
"A simple thing: try the two fingers test. If you can fit two fingers under the strap at your baby's shoulder, then the seat is too loose."
She has carried out extensive research into the dynamics and dangers of the suits babies wear in cars and that's how the Cosynest was born.
She told us she is delighted that her bulk-and-fabric ratio design has now come out tops in the crash test, which was funded by Enterprise Ireland with tailored conditions designed by Trinity College Dublin's School of Engineering.
Dr Ciaran Simms, Associate Professor Biomechanical Engineering, Trinity College Dublin says: "We slightly modified the standard R129 crash test to take into account the fact that belts are often slack in real world use.
"Retaining the child in its car seat is crucial to the child's safety. If the child is ejected they risk severe neck and head injuries and are more likely to be hit by sharp objects, leading to a much more serious outcome.
"The Cosynest showed a better capacity to retain the child in the seat than a conventional snowsuit'.
* The Road Safety Authority has a special online 'check it fits' section (www.rsa.ie/checkitfits).
* New European car-seat safety regulations, called i-Size, insist on the criteria for a seat before it can go on sale. They classify car seats by a child's height rather than weight as has been the case.
This is being done so parents don't move children from rear-facing infant seats to forward-facing ones too early.
* How did you choose or fit your child-seat? Are you happy it is the correct one for your child?