Child car seats are essential for keeping little ones safe during car journeys.
However, knowing which seat is best for your child or how you should properly use one can be tricky, and there are lots of myths out there that make the matter even more confusing. To help, we’ve pulled together some common myths about car seats and put them to the test.
Myth 1: Car seats aren’t compulsory
This one is well and truly busted!
By law, every child must travel in a car seat until they’re 12 years old or 135cm tall (150cm in the Republic of Ireland). After this, they need to wear a seat belt whenever travelling.
It’s important that your child uses a child seat for this full duration as they are specially designed to keep them safe, and seat belts don’t offer the same level of protection. Which leads us neatly onto our next myth…
Myth 2: It’s safe for children to use a seat belt instead of a car seat
Busted! Seat belts are designed to protect adults, but children are proportionally much smaller. This means that a seat belt won’t offer the same level of protection for a child as it would an adult. And you can’t adjust a seat belt to a safer position for a child, meaning it will be too high up their body near their necks.
That’s why it’s vital your child travels in a car seat – it could save their life!
Myth 3: Car seats can be used in the front passenger seat
This one’s actually true.
According to the law, if the front airbag has been deactivated, your child can travel in the front seat of a car. And it’s important to remember this as airbags can cause serious harm to children.
That’s why we’d generally advise you to always install a car seat in the back seat of a car. Not only does this prevent the need to deactivate your airbags, but research shows it’s the safest place for a child to be as it provides them with a larger crumple zone.
Top tip: If you have no choice other than to use the front passenger seat, make sure the seat is pushed back as far as possible as this will place your child in a safer position.
Myth 4: Children shouldn’t wear thick coats
Another one that’s true!
Thick clothing prevents a harness from lying snugly against the body, and this incorrect belt positioning could result in the harness slipping off the shoulder. That’s why your child should wear everyday clothing instead of thick winter coats or jackets.
If you’re worried your little one will be too cold, use a blanket to keep them snug and then you can put their coat back on before taking them out of the car.
Myth 5: Car seats don’t need to be replaced after an accident
Myth firmly busted!
While there’s no law saying you have to replace a car seat after an accident, you’ll struggle to find a car seat brand who don’t advise doing so.
Even if a car seat has no clear or obvious damage, that doesn’t mean it’s safe to use. A seat could have tiny hair-line cracks in the plastic that aren’t visible, and these could pose a significant safety risk in an accident.
So, always replace a car seat after an accident!
Myth 6: All booster seats offer the same level of protection
Research points towards this one also being false.
When compared to standard booster seats, high-back booster seats offer enhanced protection, considerably reducing the risk of injury.
This is because high-back booster seats have side-impact protection which protects a child in a side-impact collision – something standard booster seats don’t benefit from. On top of this, high-back booster seats also include shoulder belt routing which can be adjusted to the height of a child, further enhancing their safety.
Booster seat law also differs, and you can only use a standard booster seat when your little one weighs 22kg, whereas high-back booster seats can be used when they weigh 15kg.
Myth 7: Children shouldn’t travel in a car seat for prolonged periods of time
This one’s a little less clear cut and will often depend on the manufacturer and the age of your child.
Many brands recommend that a baby shouldn’t be in a car seat for longer than two hours in a 24-hour period, as sitting in an upright position for too long can strain a baby’s neck. It’s also easy for a baby to overheat, especially in the summer. To help keep your baby safe and comfortable on journeys, CYBEX have developed SensorSafe technology which sends alerts to your smartphone if the temperature in your car gets too high – and this can be found on a range of seats including the CYBEX Cloud Z i-Size.
For older children, there are no additional risks posed by prolonged journeys – although you might end up with earache from the constant questioning of ‘are we there yet?’!
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There you have it, seven car seat myths. Hopefully, that clears up some uncertainty and will help you keep your little one safe during car journeys.
If you need more help choosing the perfect car seat, head over to our car seat buyer’s guide. Once you’re ready to find your new car seat, head over to Halfords.com to explore our full range, all from top brands.
You want to keep your child safe on journeys with a high-quality car seat, you want Halfords.