Child Seats

Almost 3 out of 4 mums in the West Midlands say they could be breaking the law by not knowing how to fit their child car seat properly.

Every year in our region around 650 children are injured or killed when travelling in a car.

The AA has these top tips for fitting child car seats:

Try a car seat before you buy it - Ask your retailer's advice. They can demonstrate the seat and show you how to install it in your car. Check that you'll be able to get a refund. At the very least you should check that you can return it if the seat you buy turns out to be incompatible with your car. Try a car manufacturer's franchised dealer. If you're still having difficulties finding a seat that fits correctly in your car, then dealers should be able to offer you seats for every age range that are compatible with their car models.

Belts too short? A fairly common problem with rear-facing seats is that the car's belts are not long enough to fit around the restraint. There is no minimum standard length for adult seat belts and it would take a large adult to use as much belt as one of these seats when fitted. Try the child seat in every seating position in which you are likely to use it and make sure that sufficient belt length is available. Some seats have an 'alternative belt route' that can be used when the belts are too short for normal installation. Non-reclining and 'two-way' seats may require more length of seat belt than equivalent reclining seats, which can be installed in the upright position and then reclined against seat belt tension once the belt has been fitted. Two-way seats are generally larger.

Sloping seats - If the seats in your car slope significantly and you buy a non-reclining infant carrier the combination of angles can result in your baby 'lying' in a near vertical position.
Reclining seats can help overcome this.

'Buckle crunch' If the seat belt buckle lies across the frame of the child seat it will prevent it from being tightened and risks the buckle breaking or opening in a crash. Only seat belt webbing should be in contact with the frame of the child seat.
An 'alternative belt route' can help you to avoid buckle crunch as, sometimes, can moving the child seat to a different location in the car.

Poor adult belt geometry - Adult belts are designed to be comfortable for and to protect adults rather than for installing child restraints. In some cars the outer seat belt mounting point (opposite end of the lap-belt to the buckle) in the car is located so far forward that the seat belt webbing does not pull the child seat frame backwards and downwards into the car seat.
Poor adult belt geometry is usually only a problem in outboard rear seating positions. It prevents you from getting the installation tight and allows too much movement in a crash.