Figures released by Good Egg Safety indicate a 13% rise in badly fitted child car seats in the four-year period 2010-2013.
The figures – which are based on more than 10,500 tests conducted by Good Egg across England, Scotland and Wales – show a rise in unsafe fitting from 47% in 2010, to 55% in 2011, 57% in 2012 and 60% in 2013.
Good Egg Safety blames the rise on what it calls a ‘perfect storm’ of poor in-shop assistance by some retailers, online buying, hand-me-downs and second-hand purchases.
The campaign’s data shows that in 2013 under half of purchasers buying from a shop were given access to a trained member of staff, and only one third were asked the essential information required for correct fitting.
Jan James, CEO of Good Egg Safety, said: “If you want to get an idea of the difference between a properly fitted child safety seat and a badly fitted one, think of eggs in an egg box.
“Eggs are fragile — as are our children — but when snugly fitted in the right sized egg box, they can withstand all kinds of bumps and jolts. If you put eggs loose, or in a box which is too big for the eggs, they fare much worse.
“No one would think of transporting loose eggs yet that is effectively what we are doing when child safety seats are not the right size for the child, or aren’t secure because they are the wrong type for the vehicle, or they are not fitted properly.
“Analysis from our surveys suggest three reasons for this. First, where the seat has been donated by friends or re-used from a previous vehicle. Second, an increase in buying second hand online. And third, we’ve found that two thirds of our respondents who bought from a retail shop in 2013 were not shown how to fit the seat, and less than half were asked for the basic information necessary to advise them on the right seat. There is also significant risk of incorrectly fitting a brand new child seat if it is purchased online without means to check with the retailer directly.”
Commenting on the results, Honor Byford, chair of Road Safety GB, said: “Ideally, new cars should be ordered with child seats fitted as part of the deal.
“New cars now should have ISOFIX standardised connections that enable ISOFIX child seats to be fixed into the frame of the car.
“However, there are still many child seats for older vehicles and in use by second generations even, which are more tricky to fit – especially if they no longer have the fitting instructions.
“We strongly recommend that parents and carers buy the best child car seat they can – and use ISOFIX if your car has the fittings.”
Good Egg Safety
Good Egg Safety campaigns to help keep families safer. Good Egg provides information on safe driving for new and older motorists, family cycling, in-car child safety, and in-home child safety.