CAR SEAT SAFETY
Startling findings suggest that around 70% of car seats are fitted incorrectly. When you consider that every year more than 100,000 children are involved in crashes, it's clear just how crucial a safely secured car seat is.
Holly Smith is a healthy, happy 18-month-year-old, but had it not been for her child seat, it could easily have been a different story.
Mum Victoria was driving to work one morning. Holly was strapped up in her car seat in the back.
Victoria was momentarily distracted by a noise and turned to the backseat to check on Holly.
When Victoria turned back, she realised she had veered onto the opposite side of the road into the oncoming traffic.
|"She had no cuts or bruises on her whatsoever. I know it is because of her car seat."|
"I hit the car head-on. The car pushed me about 150 yards down the road and I ended up in a hedge," says Victoria.
Her injuries were life threatening and Victoria was air lifted to Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham.
"I had broken my leg, completely shattered my pelvis, I'd ripped my spleen and my liver," she explains.
"I was told if the air ambulance hadn't arrived, I wouldn't be here today."
Safe in her seat
There was better news for her daughter. Holly came away from the accident completely unscathed.
"She had no cuts or bruises on her whatsoever," says Victoria.
|Holly's car seat ensured she remained unharmed during a head-on collision|
"I know it's because of her car seat. It was fitted properly, the seat belts worked fully.
"Holly was safe in that car seat."
Holly is living proof that a correctly fitted car seat saves lives.
But, according to car seat expert, Damon Marriot, many parents are unknowingly driving their children around in badly fitted car seats.
"I generally find that about 70% of the ones we check are not fitted correctly.
"It's normally a minor thing where they don't pull the seats tight enough, but you do still get some where they don't use the seats at all."
Second hand safety
In 2003, 30 children aged 0-11 were killed and 481 seriously injured in cars.
Of this group the number of 0-4's killed was 15, 173 were seriously injured and 2,344 were slightly injured in cars.
In 2004, a survey conducted by the Transport Research Laboratory showed that 5% of 0-4 year olds were not restrained in any way in the rear of cars.
The morning and afternoon school runs are the peak times for accidents involving children.
Even at low speeds, having your child in an incorrectly fitted seat could increase their risk of injury.
Children up to 11 aren't big enough to travel without a child seat of some sort until they are about five feet (150cm) tall. Until then, the adult belt will not fit safely and they are safest using a suitable child seat.
Source: Think! Road Safety
Despite tempting cut-price offers, experts advise against buying second hand car seats.
To find out why, Inside Out puts a second hand seat to the test.
The £15 seat is tested in one of the most advanced crash test rigs in the world.
The results serve as a stark warning about the dangers these seats can pose.
The harness is clearly not strong enough and the dummy is thrown forward in the seat.
Brian Mycock of Trading Standards explains that the crotch strap would have caused considerable damage, whilst the dummy's head is forced forwards onto the dashboard, causing possible internal injuries.
"With second hand car seats you don't know how old it is, you don't know its history, or if it has been in an accident," explains Brian.
"The only time you should consider a second hand one is when you're buying from a member of family, whose knowledge and information you trust."
With two thirds of child seats being incorrectly fitted, Inside Out has produced a guide to buying and fitting child car seats. Click here to find out more.