Are Parents and Carers Fitting Child Car Seats Correctly?

  • Published: TRL presentation at the Harrogate International Nursery Fair, March 2015
  • Authors: Mark Pitcher, TRL
  • Date Added: 07 Dec 2015
  • Last Update: 07 Dec 2015
  • Format: pdf


To identify the level of child car seat misuse and the most commons forms of misuse.


Analysis of 1,576 records of information collected during child car seat checking clinics, mostly held in 2013.

Key Findings

  • Since 2010, TRL has been collecting information gathered during child car seat checking clinics conducted in over 50 locations in England and Scotland.

  • Children’s age, weight and height was recorded to enable an assessment of whether the child car seat being used was appropriate for the child.

  • 83% of parents/guardians were able to provide the child’s age.

  • However, only 15% of parents/guardians knew their child’s weight.

  • This is a particular concerned as most child car seats conform to ECE R44, and are based on the child’s weight. Parents/guardians who do not know the weight of their child, are more likely to put them in an inappropriate child seat.

  • 13% of the children observed in a forward-facing group 1 child car seat were below the minimum weight of 9kg for that type of seat, and should have been in a rearward-facing seat.

  • No children above 9kg were in a rearward-facing child seat, even though group 0+ seats allow children to stay rearward-facing until they are 13kg in weight.

  • 4% of the children observed exceeded the maximum weight for the Group 1 child seat they were using.

  • 24% of the children who were in booster seats were under the minimum weight of 15kg for that type of seat.

  • Only 2% of the parents/guardians who participated in the clinics knew their child’s height. This is important because the new 1-size (regulation 129) standard for child car seats is based on children’s height.

  • In general, only 40% of the child car seats recorded in the database were fitted correctly.

  • 60% of the child car seats recorded in the database had at least one form of misuse, most commonly the:

    • child seat’s internal harness too loose (20%)

    • seat belt holding the child seat too loose (17%)

    • seat belt routed through the child seat incorrectly (15%)

    • child seat’s internal harness incorrectly fitted (6%)

    • child seat’s internal harness twisted (3%).

  • Levels of misuse of child car seats remain high and so education and checking clinics are essential.