A Review of Child Car Restraint Instructions

  • Published: RoSPA, March 2001
  • Authors: RoSPA
  • Date Added: 09 Apr 2012
  • Last Update: 14 Feb 2016
  • Format: pdf


To examine the role of instructions in the fitting of child car restraints.


A review of manufacturer’s instructions for a selection of child car restraints available in Britain, and observational surveys of volunteers fitting the restraints using the instructions.

Key Findings:

  • Many people find fitting child restraints difficult. Some major retailers have trained staff who are able to help, and many manufacturers operate helplines and websites. However, problems persist.

  • There is wide variety in the quality of the instructions provided with child restraints, some of which are well-written and presented with good, clear illustrations. However, others are very poor in these respects.

  • Generally, the volunteers found the booklets daunting because of the amount of information, and so expected to find fitting the restraints difficult.

  • Small print size and the need to cross refer between pages within the booklets caused particular problems and complaints. The volunteers felt that placing diagrams and supporting text together was the most helpful layout.

  • When studying the instructions, most people focussed mainly on the diagrams. However, the quality of illustrations in the instruction booklets was very variable.

  • Volunteers generally gave lower scores for the text than the diagrams. Many commented that there was too much text, and sometimes they felt much of it was irrelevant or unnecessary. A frequent comment was that it was difficult to isolate the essential information from the non-essential.

  • Some instruction booklets were printed on flimsy paper and quickly became crumpled, suggesting that they would not last very long. On-product instructions were often not seen, and in some cases had begun to peel off.

  • The project also identified a number of common fitting problems, especially failures to ensure the restraint was tightly secured, which are worthy of further research.