Just 1 in 4 children are secured correctly when a vehicle is in motion: are you getting it right or wrong?
When a vehicle is in motion, just 23% of children shorter than 1.35 m are fastened correctly in their seats. An even scarier figure is the 13% of children who are not secured at all. These results come from a large-scale study conducted by the transport agency Vias institute. This article offers a few tips on how to get children from A to B safely.
Every three years, Vias institute conducts a national behavioural index looking at the correct use of child seats in vehicles. The most recent index was carried out throughout Belgium, with experts looking at how more than 1,000 children were secured in vehicles.
Their observations show that when a vehicle is in motion, fewer than 1 in 4 (23%) children are secured correctly in a seat adapted to their weight and height. The percentage of children who are secured correctly is slightly higher in Brussels (26%) than in Wallonia (24%) and Flanders (21%). While half of all children observed (50%) do sit in the right type of seat, the seat is not properly adjusted to their dimensions. One in seven (14%) sit in a seat than is adapted neither to their height or weight, while half of these children are not secured correctly either. An even more striking figure is that 13% of children are not secured at all while a vehicle is in motion.
75% of drivers believe their child is secured correctly
This study also included a survey, which asked drivers to assess whether they thought their child was secured correctly. In total, 77% of respondents stated that they believed their child was secured correctly in the right type of seat. In other words, the majority of drivers are simply unaware that their child is not fastened securely.
When these drivers were expressly shown where they had gone wrong, the following reasons were most often cited for failing to secure the child: oversight or lack of time (20%); a desire by the child to do it themselves or resistance against being secured (18%); and a lack of awareness as to how a child seat should be properly installed (14%).
What can happen if a child is not secured correctly?
The consequences of failing to secure a child properly can vary depending on the situation. If the issue is a minor one (e.g. a twisted seatbelt), this will have less of an impact on their safety than if the belt is being used in the wrong way altogether. For more than one third of children, the child safety system is used so poorly that if the vehicle were to crash it would lead to serious or even fatal injury.
If the child is not secured at all, the consequences would be very grave. A collision that occurs at a speed of 50 km/H is the equivalent of increasing a person's weight by a factor of 35. With that in mind, a child weighing 25 kg would have a mass of nearly a ton.
A collision at 50 km/h is the equivalent of falling from a height of approximately 10 metres, or three floors. In short, if a child has not been secured correctly in a vehicle, it is like letting them play on an balcony with no railing.
What does the law say?
According to the traffic code, a vehicle should contain a suitable child safety system if transporting children younger than 18 years of age and shorter than 1 m 35 in height.
Heavier fines have been issued since January 2013 to drivers who fail to secure children correctly. The failure to use an adapted child safety system for children shorter than 1 m 35 is considered a third-degree offence under Belgian law, and can result in a fine of EUR 165.
More information is available at www.kinderenindeauto.be
10 tips on how to get a child from A to B safely
- 1.Be sure to check which seat is right for your child, and do so before you travel. Child seats are certified for use based on weight or height.
- 2.Before installing the seat, always read the instructions.
- 3.Always make sure the seat is facing in the right direction. Baby seats should be rear-facing (i.e. opposite the direction of travel.
- 4.Make sure the belt is always extended in the right direction.
- 5.It should not be twisted, as this can impede its effectiveness.
- 6.It is definitely worth buying an ISOFIX system, as this is easier to install.
- 7.Make sure the belt does not have too much give (1 cm at the maximum). The belt should have the right amount of tension in any one spot.
- 8.Make sure the belt/straps always go over the passenger's shoulder – not behind the back or under the armpit.
- 9.Make sure your child is fastened securely even during short journeys, as accidents can happen at any time.
- 10.If your child wants to buckle themselves in, double-check to ensure they have done it correctly.
Failing to secure a child correctly in a vehicle is like letting them play on a balcony with no railing.