The car seat mistake most parents are making

The car seat safety mistake most parents are making [Photo: Getty]
The car seat safety mistake most parents are making [Photo: Getty]

Just last week, a mum took to Facebook to share a horrifying crash image to remind parents about the importance of car seat safety.

And now the subject is making headlines once again thanks to a new survey, which has revealed that parents aren’t as car safe savvy as they might think.

Turns out the majority of parents don’t now about a crucial car seat feature, which is needed to ensure your little one’s seat is safely secured.

New research from Safe Kids Worldwide, a non-profit organisation working to prevent childhood injury, shows that more than half of forward-facing car seats are not used properly because of one misunderstood but vital step in installation: attaching the top tether.

In a study of parents who came to car seat check-up events between October 2015 and December 2016, 64% of forward-facing car seats with harnesses were not attached using the tether.

What’s more of those parents who did use the tether, only about half did so correctly, the Chicago Tribune reported.

In other words there are a heck of a lot of car seats out there carrying kids who potentially aren’t properly protected.

“Our research shows many parents don’t know about the tether, and don’t realise that their child is not fully protected. We want to fix that,” said Lorrie Walker, Child Passenger Safety Expert for Safe Kids Worldwide.

“Parents: Join us in encouraging every person who drives your child to take time to tether.”

But what exactly is a tether? And how do you attach it?

We spoke to Halfords’ child seat expert, Emily Moulder to find out.

“When installing an Isofix seat that has a top tether, the top tether is required to properly anchor the seat when in the forward facing position,” she explains.

“The top tether is part of the Isofix system, and if your seat has a top tether it should be secured correctly, in addition to the Isofix anchorage points. The top tether reduces the forward motion of the seat, and therefore of your child’s head, in the event of a collision.”

So why the confusion?

“A top tether anchor point can sometimes be difficult to locate in your vehicle, and it varies across vehicles,” Emily continues. She recommends checking your vehicle’s manual to identify where yours is.

“If in doubt, pop into your local Halfords store, where we will be happy to advise if your seat is compatible with your vehicle and suitable for your child.”

Parents are confused about car seat safety [Photo: Getty]
Parents are confused about car seat safety [Photo: Getty]

And it seems the tether isn’t the only thing parents are confused about when it comes to car seat safety.

Research by consumer website revealed that 66% of parents don’t fully understand the right height, age and weight regulations when it comes to their children’s car seats.

Experts believe that the confusion parents are feeling stems from the increased focus on children’s car seat-safety, which has lead to parents feeling overwhelmed with information.

Previous research from Halfords’ Parent Panel reveals that 65 per cent of parents think that the current rules on car seat use are confusing.

But there are some key points that can help families stay car-seat safe.

According to the government’s safety regulations children needs to stay in a car seat of some form until they’re 12 years old or 135cm tall.

You can choose a child car seat based on your child’s height or weight.

Height-based seats are known as ‘i-Size’ seats. They must be rear-facing until your child is over 15 months old. Your child can use a forward-facing child car seat when they’re over 15 months old,” the site reads.

“The seat your child can use (and the way they must be restrained in it) depends on their weight,” the government site says of weight-based seats.

If you’re confused about any aspect of car seat safety it is recommended you seek expert advice.

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