The number of children seriously injured or killed in car crashes in Britain has risen for the first time in two decades, according to the Office of National Statistics.
Child casualties aged between newborn and 15 years rose by 3% to 2,060 between September 2013 and September 2014. The UK’s Transport Research Laboratory found that 13% of the children killed or injured weren’t properly restrained.
You can do a lot to help protect your child in a car crash by buying the right child car seat and fitting your child’s car seat correctly.
Child car seats: what you can do
Children’s bodies develop differently to adults, so it’s important to protect them in the right way as they grow. That’s why there are child car seat groups based on your child’s weight – from Group 0 for children weighing 0-10kg to Group 3, for children weighing 22-36kg.
For added protection, babies and young children so should remain rearward facing for as long as possible, as their heads are heavy and neck muscles are weak, so risk being pulled forward by the force of a crash if they’re facing forwards. We recommend keeping them rearward facing until:
- their weight exceeds 18kg
- they grow too tall for the height of the adjustable harness – it should sit 2cm above the shoulder
- the child outgrows the head protection – the eyes are level with the top of the headrest.
We also recommend using high-backed boosters for older children, as booster cushions without a back offer no protection in a side impact.
Take a look at our guide to choosing a child car seat to find the right one for your child.
As well as getting the right seat, small and common fitting mistakes can mean your child is less well protected. See our free downloadable PDF with 10 child car seat fitting checks to make sure your child’s car seat is fitted correctly.
Good vs bad child car seats
We’ve tested hundreds of child car seats that have passed UK standard tests, and we’ve been shocked by the differences between a good and bad one. Watch our video below to see just what the difference can mean for your child.
We go further than the standard and test child car seats at a higher speed – 40mph in a head on crash while it’s 30mph in the standard test – and we do a side collision test. In addition, we test how easy each seat is to fit – the harder it is to fit, the more risk there is of your child being fitted incorrectly.
Through our tests, we have identified some Don’t Buy child car seats to avoid, some of which have been discontinued.