All restraints made under our tough Australian Standard are very effective in the event of an accident – when they’re used properly. Sadly though, many aren’t. A 2009 Monash University study of almost 2000 car journeys involving children in restraint seats found that children had been incorrectly restrained up to 88 per cent of the time, depending on the restraint type; 88 per cent of forward-facing seats were wrongly installed , followed by infant seats (67 per cent) and booster seats (63 per cent). Now that’s a *lot* of children at risk of serious injury or death.
All parents care and love their children, but just buying a seat, even the most expensive seat on the market, then installing it doesn’t provide adequate protection. Its imperative that you know *how* the seat works and how to use it properly.
- Read the instruction manual carefully;
- Read it again;
- Have it installed by a professional restraint fitter. This isn’t us trying to drum up business, its $25-$50 on average from most places and its money worth spending;
- Don’t overdress or swaddle babies in the car – too much bulk affects the seatbelt fitment leaving the child at risk of being thrown from the restraint (and from the vehicle entirely);
- Use the labels on your restraint to regularly check your child still fits in the restraint;
- Keep your top tether strap tight – we use “guitar string tight” as a guide – but not too tight to avoid lifting the restraint up off the car seat;’
- Shoulder harness straps should be threaded through the shoulder slots nearest but not below your child’s shoulders;
- Ensure there are no twists in the harness belts at all;
- Listen for the “click” to be certain your child is buckled in and give each side a pull to make sure they won’t come loose when you’re driving;
- Maintain a firm fitment on the harness straps – you should be able to get only one or two fingers underneath the shoulder straps when the harness is done up;
- Check that the car seat belt is still buckled in that holds your restraint in place. Its very easy for other passengers or children to accidentally undo this belt if its near to their own seatbelt buckle.
Following our tips and knowing your car restraints have been installed correctly and you’re confident in using them is the key to safe travel.