Child Car Safety Seats - 101

By ACRI

Along with Driving responsibly - Passenger Safety starts here:

Regardless of the many improvements made with vehicle safety, hospital injury and fatality statistics have not eased for over 30 years. Families suffer the pain from road collisions every day.

Complacency of car travel risks have increased, partly through the desensitised environment that the modern motor car provides. Driver distraction factors have also increased many times over. Many Child Car Safety Seats – Child Restraints - bring complications that can contribute to their misuse.

Where to Focus:
It's important to reiterate the fact that these are first and foremost Safety products. Despite the added attractions of cushions, cup-holders, speaker systems etc; they were not made for any other purpose than facilitating a safe travel environment. Inducements to buy these products are often comfort driven and not safety driven, these being completely different aims.

The Basics of Safe passenger environments:
Collision forces multiply weight factors many times. Since most ‘high impact’ collisions are frontal orientated, rear facing passengers are protected much more effectively. Yes, all passengers would be safer rear facing, but with babies and small children being extra vulnerable, we can easily achieve safer travel environments using the right equipment.

Other than the rear facing point above, there are only five (5) basic safety factors to address. These apply equally to adults as well as children.

  • We need ‘Lower body’ restraint, (ie: via straps, harness - seat belt) ie: Low as possible to the pelvis area.
  • We also need correctly positioned ‘Upper body’ restraint (again via straps, harness - seat belt) ie: Across the shoulder and away from the face or neck.
  • All looseness should be removed from these straps or belts, Adjustments are provided for this purpose.
  • Head protection devices must be correctly positioned. Adjustable Side impact devices are built into many Safety Seats. Likewise, Head Restraints (Commonly and inappropriately called ‘Head rests’) are built into most vehicles for the reduction of ‘whiplash’ injury.
  • Safety Seat equipment must be correctly and reliably attached to the vehicle at both the lower and upper connection points. Ie; Seat belt or ISOFIX for Lower and Upper tether strap and anchorage for upper.

The Greatest challenge:
Incorrect Safety Seat use often occurs through little more than a misunderstanding. Personally held perspectives and beliefs, often based on a single piece of information do affect Safety Seat use: sometimes for the better, but often not. Every family’s requirements bring unique challenges; there are very few identical situations.

Parents today have access to thousands of pages of information at their finger tips on Safety Seats, but the vast majority is so generic that it rarely applies to a specific family need or concern.

One common belief is that these products all operate the same way. In fact, the variety of product differences is astounding. When combined with other considerations, such as the vehicle, the child and alternate family demands, the variety of challenges that may affect correct use are in fact infinite.

The Good News:
It’s the specifics that require our sole attention. Concentrating on the basics, as listed above and maintaining clear and dedicated focus toward safe practice principles will assure you the safest possible way to travel with your children, today and into the future.

Note: The views and advice expressed on this blog post are those of the author and are not representative of the Pregnancy Babies & Children's Expo.

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