25,000 Children at Risk in Car Collisons

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New AA research urges action by parents and grandparents on two thirds of child car seats not fitted correctly.

It's shocking that despite the great safety advances in child seat design over the past 12 years that such significant numbers of child car seats are still fitted incorrectly

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Two thirds of child car seats are not fitted correctly* and over 83% of drivers are not aware of UK car seat legislation reveals research by the AA** and Britax.

The research from 16,500 respondents - which included grandparents*** for the first time - found that only a quarter of all people admitted experiencing difficulty in fitting a child car seat despite evidence that two thirds of seats are not fitted correctly.

Even more surprisingly, 66% of respondents stated that they didn't know that the law requires children up to the age of 12 to use a car seat and 80% of them were not aware that UK law requires children under the height of 135cms to use a child seat.

The research also revealed that grandparents had even less awareness with 74% stating that they didn't know the age range over which the law requires children to use a car seat and 86% didn't know the minimum height requirements.

UK law introduced in 2006, actually requires all children travelling in cars to use the correct child restraint until they are either 135cms in height or the age of 12 (which ever they reach first). This research highlights that the law may not always be followed and with over 25,000 child passengers involved in car collisions each year, the AA and Britax urge drivers to review their car seat safety this half term.

And there is a solution to the problem of seats not fitted correctly - ISOFIX a standard system developed for fitting child seats. The idea is simple - car manufacturers provide small and inconspicuous attachment points in standard locations in new cars which ISOFIX car seats lock directly onto reducing the risk of child seats being fitted incorrectly.

The research by breakdown cover specialists The AA estimates at least 6 million cars (around 25% of all cars) are fitted with standardised ISOFIX fittings. Despite this the research revealed that 74% of drivers were not aware of ISOFIX.

"It's shocking that despite the great safety advances in child seat design over the past 12 years that such significant numbers of child car seats are still fitted incorrectly," said Edmund King, president of the Automobile Association. "Our children and grandchildren are our most precious cargo so we must do all we can to keep them safe and keep within the law. In the AA Populus poll, safety, the child's comfort and clear instructions ranked above price or fabric of seats. We recommend that parents choose an ISOFIX seat if it is compatible with their car."

Ian Watson Britax European managing director added: "Britax launched ISOFIX technology in co-operation with VW in 1997 and the safety system is designed to minimise installation errors and reduce the risk of misuse through standardised fitting points between child seats and a vehicle. These fittings mean that if you're moving your child's car seat between cars, for example, to a grandparent's car, fitting is easier and there is less chance of a car seat being fitted incorrectly."

As a result of this research the AA has developed with Britax a range of AA approved car seats for children from birth to approximately 12 years old, all of which utilise ISOFIX and are available from Mothercare. The AA approved Britax ISOFIX seats are almost impossible to fit incorrectly and can be used in non-ISOFIX cars by utilising the adult seat-belts.

Notes to Editors:

  •     * Statistic based on The Walsall Trading Standard and Road Safety unit checked 216 child seats over 4 days and found that 32.5% were fitted correctly (Aug/Sept 2008)
  •     **Research conducted by the AA Populus poll in Sept 2008 of 7,971 drivers
  •     *** Saga Populus Panel Survey conducted in December 2008 of 8,445 grandparents

Despite the massive benefits of the system the AA Populus poll found that:

  •     74% drivers don't know what ISOFIX is
  •     26% said they knew what ISOFIX was.
  •     Men (31%) and those who cared for children (44%) were more likely to say they knew.
  •     Of those who said that they didn't know what ISOFIX was:
  •     11% said it was a device to reduce toxic exhaust emissions.
  •     3% said it was a universal roof rack attachment.
  •     2% said it was a system to stop windscreen washers freezing up.
  •     2% said it was tie-down hooks in the boot to stop luggage sliding around.
  •     36% of panellists said that they did not have the anchorage points required to attach an ISOFIX seat
  •     29% said they did with 8% saying that they did, and actually used an ISOFIX restraint. 35% didn't know.

AA Approved Britax Range of Child Car Seats

The new AA approved range of Britax Car Seats is available at Mothercare stores, online at mothercare.com or by phone on 08453 304030. Those buying an AA approved Britax Car Seat can get up to 50% off AA Personal Membership*.

ISOFIX Explained

In 1997, Britax developed ISOFIX, in association with car manufacturer VW and the safety system has become an international installation interface for standardised anchorage points between a child seat and a vehicle. It minimises instillation errors and optimises protection through a rigid connection to the car chassis.

ISOFIX also reduced forward and sideward movement of the seat and limits rotation through a foot prop or top tether.

The ISOFIX system makes installation and removal quick and easy providing peace of mind when fitting a child seat and reduces the risk of misuse.

The Pivot Link

Britax has further advanced the ISOFIX technology by developing a unique patented ISOFIX Pivot Link system of ISOFIX connectors that attach to the seat via an L-shaped link.

The solution allows the seat to move in two stages in case of frontal accident. In the first stage the seat rotates in the opposite direction to a standard ISOFIX seat, the movement to the rear is activated by the Pivot Link system and so the minimising the child's forward movement. In the second stage the seat rotates far more gently.

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Victoria Johnson
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