There has been a 47% increase in the number of incorrectly fitted child car seats over the past eight years, while child casualties are on the rise, according to car seat campaign group Good Egg Safety.
In its recent independent mystery-shopping tests, Good Egg discovered that more than nine out of ten retailers from 146 stores failed to provide essential advice to parents on how to choose and fit a car seat safely for their child.
Which? conducted a similar undercover investigation in 2014 and found that 90% of the 42 stores we visited failed to fit car seats correctly.
Which? car seats expert Lisa Galliers says: ‘It’s absolutely shocking that this is still happening. It’s unacceptable.
‘Retailers need to do more to improve their staff’s training and knowledge of child car seats, to help make sure that every baby car seat is fitted correctly, and that the right questions are being asked every time.
‘We’d also urge parents to prepare before going to buy a car seat in-store; know what information to give, what questions to ask and challenge anything they feel is incorrect.’
Best Buy car seats – make sure you buy a car seat that has passed our tough crash tests and is recommended by our car seat experts.
Car seat retailers must improve
During our car seat fitting investigation, several of the stores we visited fitted a car seat so badly that a child using them could be in serious danger in the event of a crash, and 13 out of 42 failed to ask vital information about the weight or age of the child.
We visited branches of major retailers, including Babies R Us, Halfords, John Lewis, Kiddicare, Mamas & Papas and Mothercare, as well as a number of independent stores.
At the time, we shared detailed findings with each of the retailers and we urged them to improve. A poorly fitted car seat is an unnecessary risk that could mean the difference between life and death in the event of a collision.
Make sure your car seat is properly fitted
As these investigations show, buying the best car seat isn’t enough to guarantee your child’s safety.
And sadly it’s not always enough to rely on the advice of a car-fitting service. We still strongly recommend you have your car seat installed by a fitting service, but it’s also vital for parents to do their own research.
Take a look at our guide to the 10 essential car seat fitting checks you must make before putting your child in a newly fitted car seat.
You can download our free car seat fitting checklist to take with you when you get your child’s car seat fitted or to have on hand so you can make sure your car seat is installed correctly.
We’ve also created video guides to help you fit a range of car seats. These include: