Millions of parents ignore car seat safety rules

One in five parents regularly break the law when it comes to car safety for children

New research released today to coincide with National Child Safety Week, reveals millions of parents around the UK are breaking car safety laws and could be putting their children at risk. Commissioned by Britax to highlight the importance of car seat anchoring system ISOFIX, the report found that one in five often let their children travel without sitting in a car seat and a quarter of parents do not even know how to fit their child’s seat.

The research showed that the most common problems parents face are difficulty in getting the seat to feel sturdy, not being able to pull the seatbelt round and not knowing where the seatbelt goes. All of these problems can be easily removed by using an ISOFIX compatible car seat, which are secured by simply clicking the seat’s frame into anchoring points built into the car, rather than using an adult seatbelt, yet half of all respondents did not even know what ISOFIX was.

Car Seat Safety from Britax

The ISOFIX system is easy to use and is designed to make it very difficult to install incorrectly – research has found that only 30 per cent of car seats are installed correctly when using an adult seatbelt, compared to 96 per cent of ISOFIX seats[1], making it the safest way for children to travel. The anchoring technology also means that the seat is connected securely to the car, reducing the impact of forces in a crash by controlling energy management. As of February 2012, it will be required by law that the ISOFIX system is integrated into a minimum number of seats in all new cars, making it more important than ever for parents to understand the benefits of the ISOFIX system.

As well as difficulty in understanding how to fit car seats one in ten parents admitted they were “too lazy” to ensure their children are sitting safely in a car seat at all times. Almost a third said they didn’t always have time, while a similar amount don’t feel that car seats are necessary, and a fifth would be happy to let their child travel in a car with someone who didn’t provide a car seat – despite the law stating all children under the age of 12 must use some form of car seat unless they are taller than 135cm (4ft 5in).

...research has revealed that so many parents are breaking the law by not securing children in the car properly.Mark Bennett, Child Safety Expert at Britax

The government introduced the law in 2006 to reduce the number deaths and injuries caused to children involved in car crashes, and it was hoped that it could save up to 2,000 children’s lives a year. But five years on, less than 40 per cent of parents actually understand the legal requirements when it comes to putting their children in car seat.  What’s more, the new research released by Britax today shows less than half of parents had their car seats fitted properly, and most admitted to forgoing safety and buying a cheap option rather than the best one for their child’s size.

Mark Bennett, Child Safety Expert at Britax, commented “It’s very worrying that this research has revealed that so many parents are breaking the law by not securing children in the car properly. Parents are always hectic and being in a rush is something we can all sympathise with. But it’s imperative that parents take note and adhere to the laws set in place to ensure their children’s safety when travelling in a car. We have listened to what parents have said about fitting child seats and we know that parents find installing them confusing and don’t always feel that they have the time to use one. Car seats which are installed incorrectly will not be as effective in protecting a child in the event of a collision, so it’s very important that we encourage parents to use car seats correctly every time. That’s why we want to spread the word about ISOFIX. ISOFIX is an incredibly quick and easy to use system which is almost impossible to get wrong. What’s more, we are also now incorporating universal Top Tether technology into some ranges, providing a third anchorage point to limit rotational movement and further increase safety”

Adrian Walsh, of RoadSafe, said “RoadSafe's mission is to reduce deaths and injuries on Britain’s roads, so we’re concerned that this vital message about child safety laws and the importance of using a car seat gets through to parents in the UK. We hope that this campaign by Britax will encourage more parents to think twice before letting their child travel without a car seat, as they could be breaking the law and, more importantly, putting their child in danger.”

 For more information about the safety benefits of ISOFIX, visit

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