National roadside survey of child restraint system use in Belgium

  • Published: Accident Analysis & Prevention 62, 2014
  • Authors: Mathieu Roynard, Peter Silverans, Yvan Casteels, Philippe Lesire
  • Date Added: 07 Dec 2015
  • Last Update: 07 Dec 2015
  • Format: pdf


To obtain population-based estimates of the prevalence of correct and incorrect use of child car restraints and to identify predictors of misuse on the basis of observations in real traffic conditions.


A roadside survey of child restraint system use and misuse conducted on randomly selected sites across Belgium, stratified across various types of journeys. Interviews with drivers were also conducted. The principal parameters analysed were the characteristics of the children and the car drivers, type of journey, types of CRS and types of misuse.

Key Findings:

  • 1,461 children (under 135 cm tall) were observed travelling in cars.

  • At least 50% of the children observed were not correctly restrained and 10% were not restrained at all.

  • The most significant factors associated with child car restraint use were the use of a seatbelt by the driver, whether the CRS was bought in a was bought in a supermarket rather than specialised shop and the age of the children.

  • 31% of children being driven by for unbelted drivers were not in a child car restraint, whereas only 7% of children being driven by belted drivers were unrestrained.

  • 32% of correctly restrained children were being driven by drivers who were not wearing their seat belt, whereas 54% of correctly restrained children were being driven by drivers who were wearing their seat belt.

  • 27% of child car restraints that had been bought in a specialized shop were misused compared to 45% of child car restraints that bought in a supermarket.

  • The proportion of correctly restrained children decreasing from 75% at age 0 to 24% at age 8 and then increased back up to 63% at age 10.

  • Although the sample of ISOFIX users was small (n = 76), it appears that the ISOFIX system reduced misuse significantly.

  • Most of the drivers were ignorant of their own errors concerning inappropriate and/or misuse of their child car restraint or they were remiss and underestimated the risk.

  • The three main reasons given by the drivers to explain or justify the misuse were low attention level to safety (inattention, time pressure, and short distance), the child’s resistance to being restrained, children restraining themselves and problems with the restraint.

  • These results suggest little or no change in the level of correct child car restraint use over the last previous years