I have a strict rule when it comes to car seats for my kids: we have ours professionally installed and never take them out until it's time to move up to the next stage of child restraint.
This has made things somewhat tricky in the past when someone has wanted to take my kids out in their own car. And I know some people would say that's a bit of an extreme rule to have.
I also know some people who are constantly moving their car seats around from one car to the next, installing it themselves each time. And while that doesn't necessarily mean my car seats are any safer than theirs, I have never considered that not having mine looked at again over the years could also be putting my kids at risk.
More than half are unsafe
Research by the Transurban Road Safety Centre at NeuRA (Neuroscience Research Australia) found that up to half of all restraints were not fitted or used correctly.
According to Transurban Queensland, there are four common mistakes parents are still making when it comes to their child's safety in the car.
1. Harness fitting
One common mistake people make is using ill-fitting harnesses. They need to be firm around the child’s body with the shoulder straps sitting at the right shoulder height for your child.
2. Tether strap
Many people fail to connect the tether strap to an anchor point. The use of ISOFIX compatible car seats does not mean the tether strap is no longer required.
3. Twisted straps
If any of the straps on your child's car seat are twisted in any way, it can reduce the effectiveness of the seat in an accident. This refers to all straps that are part of the restraint, including the harness and tether straps.
4. Incorrect seat
Another common problem is parents using the wrong type of seat for their child. This occurs when the child is moved to the next stage of a car seat too early. Ie. from rear-facing to forward-facing or from a car seat to a booster seat.
If you're ever unsure whether your child's car restraint is correctly installed or not, have it checked over by a professional. If you're in Queensland, Transurban have partnered with Kidsafe Qld to offer free car seat fittings and safety checks for Linkt customers. The service will be running through November and December.