The need to install a properly fitted child car safety seat is demonstrated by this dramatic video from the Automobile Association showing what could happen in a car crash.
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It's very important to use child safety seats. It's very important to make sure they are fitted properly. If you don't, it could mean a certain death for your child if you have an accident. We use crash test dummies of various ages to represent the children that seats are designed to protect. The youngest dummy we use is of six months old child. We use dummies then through three years up to six-year-old dummies. They are what's called biomechanic. That means they are designed to behave like a human in their response to the crash and they also have electronic instrumentation in their head, in their neck and in their chest. So we are able to measure the forces, the loads that the dummy is experiencing. Then we can translate that into injury, potential injury risk for a real child in that sort of accident. The first test we did is a frontal impact test at 40 miles an hour. The child's seat is installed in a VW Golf Body Shell, one of the most popular cars in Europe, and that is simulating the most common severe type of accident in which children are injured. If the seat is good, then you will see the child move forwards a little way in the seat and they are brought to a gentle stop almost. If the seat performs badly, then in some cases the seat attachment is broken, the seat flies forward, the child flies forward out of the harness or the belts, potentially striking the seats in front of them with serious head injuries, chest injuries as a consequence. The second test we undertook was a side impact test, not currently required in the legislation. And for that, again the child seat is installed in the Golf Body Shell but that struck by a moving sled simulating a car striking at 15 miles an hour. In side impact, if there is inadequate padding around the child's head, then they are going to strike the door frame, the door pillar, and again potentially fatal head injuries can result. In a more severe test, 10 miles an hour more severe than the legislation, many of the seats are giving poor protection to the child, quite high risks of serious injury. In our side impact test again, many of the seats are not giving adequate side impact protection, so we are hoping to see a side impact test introduced into the legislation. Some of the seats that we tested are rear facing. Indeed, for a newborn baby, all of the seats on the markets are rear facing. There is no doubt that a rear facing seat offers better protection for a child, rather than loading their chest with the belts. The impact forces are distributed evenly down the child's back, and the risk of injury is much lower. A newborn child, they can't support their head, so they have to be carried rear facing. Choosing a seat is one of the most difficult decisions a parent has to make. Most child seats on the market are sold as universal, but it's far from the case that every seat fits properly in every car. So the best advice we can give is that you go to a retailer who is able to give you good advice, recommend a seat that suits your child's age and weight, and most importantly, a seat that can be fitted correctly in your make of car.
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