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Car Seat Clinics

In 2019, over 80% of car seats we checked at one of our clinics were incorrectly fitted.

And from the total of 149 seats checked in 2019, over 78% were incorrectly fitted or condemned.

Are you aware of the dangers of babies and children travelling in cars while inadequately restrained?  With recent county figures revealing that a shocking 70% plus of all baby and child car seats checked across Kent are incorrectly fitted, a new awareness campaign will soon be launched to highlight the dangers and provide advice on anything which puts a child at risk while travelling in a car.

KCC Road Safety launch their latest campaign in January 2021 to raise awareness of the dangers of unrestrained babies and children travelling in cars.

Before reading this article, can you answer the following questions?

  1. How tight should the harness be – able to insert 2 fingers, or your hand, under the harness around the collarbone?
  2. What is buckle crunch?
  3. Do you know the criteria for children not needing to travel in a high back booster seat?
  4. Is a rearward or forward facing car seat safest?

They Trust You to Keep Them Safe is about increasing adult knowledge of the correct restraints and seating to be used for children.  It has been evidenced that 70-80% of child car seats checked can be incorrectly fitted, from a minor adjustment like a harness needing tightening to more major problems such as incorrect seat for a particular car, a broken seat or wrong size seat for child.

When doing research to look for the most appropriate seat, remember rearward facing is far safer and some seats allow for children up to 4 years to age to travel this way.

KCC’s Road Safety team usually run free car seat clinics to give advice and check the safety and condition of car seats, but, due to Covid, this is not possible. In 2019, we checked 150 seats at our free clinics and just under 80% were incorrectly fitted, with both minor and major faults.  One particular area is an incorrectly fitted harness and sometimes a minor adjustment to the harness can mean the difference between life and death. Too loose and the child may not be protected in the event of a crash, and too tight or at the wrong height could be uncomfortable for the child.  However please be aware that harnesses should only allow 2 fingers to be slipped underneath around the collar bone to ensure harness holds the child in securely, and some parents are surprised how tight this may feel.  Children should not wear padded coats in their car seat as the air can compress around the straps in the event of a collision and the child may not be adequately secured. You can buy special blankets to use if it is cold, or after securing the harness put the coat on, back to front.

We are working in partnership with Good Egg Safety, find some more in car safety tips on their website .

5 Seat Buying Tips

  1. Make sure the car seat is approved for your vehicle
  2. Check the child’s age, weight and height
  3. Try to buy the seat from a retailer who has trained staff
  4. Have the seat demonstrated in your car before you purchase
  5. Make sure the retailer shows you how to use the seat and its features

5 Usage Tips

  1. Read the instructions to fit the seat correctly
  2. Check harness height and move up where necessary
  3. Harness tension should be the flat of 2 fingers under the collarbone
  4. Keep your child rear facing for as long as possible
  5. Max out the seat in age, weight and height

Check out KCC Road Safety Facebook page for more information. Watch our short videos showing some of the major problems found when checking child car seats.  One will show and explain to you what Buckle Crunch is.

We recommend getting advice from retailers and vehicle manufacturer if you have concerns.  Always check with the retailer that they have trained fitters available to demonstrate the seat in the car before purchasing.  See the table on our website suggesting questions you should ask retailers.

Use our handy information form to fill out and take with you to your retailer when buying a new car seat.

The safe restraining of children in vehicles is vital to help save lives.  Failure to comply with current car seat safety laws carries up to a £500 penalty.

Remember, an unrestrained child can take on the weight of a baby elephant in the event of a crash!       

Let’s not forget the older children who still need to be safely secured in a high back booster seat until they are aged 12 or 135cm in height, whichever comes first.

Finally, and this may seem an unusual subject for a night-time story, but children may enjoy Teddy’s Bedtime Story, and it may help parents to reinforce their knowledge on the Car Seat rules.

Remember, They Trust You to Keep Them Safe.



Key statistics


120 car seats were checked in Kent during July and August 2017.

80% of car seats checked at one of our clinics were incorrectly fitted or condemned.