The Observer has launched a campaign to highlight the problem of badly fitted child car seats and to encourage retailers and parents to ensure they are using seats properly.
The Observer ran a major feature on this subject on Sunday 18 September, with an edited version available online. Julie Dagnall, Road Safety GB specialist for in-vehicle safety, and Wirral’s principal RSO, provided input and was quoted in the feature.
The feature included research by Which? showing that even parents who have made use of a retailer’s fitting service may be transporting their children in unsafe seats. Testers from Which? shopped incognito at 43 stores around the country and found mistakes made in almost half.
The retailers all offer fitting to parents who buy child car seats in their stores or on their websites, and most claim to have trained staff doing the job. However, Which? said that in 49% of the stores it visited assistants failed to install seats correctly. A similar number recommended seats that were incompatible with the tester’s car.
The Observer says that at least 66% of car seats for babies and young children are wrongly fitted, according to figures supplied by RSOs from across the country. Problems included seatbelts routed wrongly and harnesses that were too high or too loose.
Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which?, said: "Major retailers made serious and potentially dangerous mistakes when advising parents on child car seats. This just isn’t good enough.
“A child’s safety will depend on having the right seat correctly fitted, and parents expect to be able to rely on the advice they’re offered in-store. Retailers have got to raise their game and train their staff properly."
The new Observer campaign includes a factsheet giving advice on choosing, buying and testing child car seats; and a series of car seat clinics in Wigan, the Wirral, Oxford and Edinburgh in the first week of October 2011.