A new law aimed at making child car seats safer was recently passed by the Northern Ireland Assembly.
New ‘i-Size’ seats can be fixed to anchor points in a car meaning they can remain securely in place throughout a journey. The new i-Size rules are being slowly phased in throughout the UK, the first phase was implemented in July 2013 and the final phase is expected in 2018.
i-Size forms part of a new European regulation on child car seats which also make it compulsory for children to travel facing rearwards until they are 15 months old. The new regulation also makes a child’s height the determining factor in whether they need a new car seat. A label stating the maximum height is printed onto every i-Size car seat and, as soon as a child exceeds that height, they need a new seat.
The new law hasn’t made it illegal to use old style car seats though. The new i-Size regulations simply work alongside the old rules on child car seats rather than replace them altogether.
One of the benefits of the new i-Size system is that parents no longer need to use an adult seat belt to secure their child’s seat. This would be great if i-Size seats were compulsory but the fact that the old regulations haven’t yet been phased out mean that parents are still prone to making mistakes in installing their child’s seat, putting them at greater risk of injury in the event of a road traffic accident.
Seven in every ten child car seats in England and Wales are not fitted properly, according to research conducted by Good Egg Safety. On their website, they list some common faults with the old system of fitting car seats with adult seatbelts and also some tips on fitting the new style car seat.
The new i-Size car seats should be easier to fit, but the continued use of the old style seats mean that mistakes carry on being made and children are still being put at risk.
Until such time as the old style car seats can be completely phased out, we need to ensure parents are much better educated in how to keep their child safe on car journeys.
Deborah Johnson is National Practice Development Leader for Road Collision at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.
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