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Drivers flout child seat laws

Press release: 30/09/2008

  • Child safety seats reduce risk of fatality by 71 per cent

  • One in six drivers break child seat laws

  • Family friends most likely to break the law and put children at risk

New research by car insurer LV= reveals that one in six drivers are breaking child car seat laws and putting their young passengers' safety at risk.

By law, drivers must ensure that all children under 12 and shorter than 135cm (4'5') use a child or booster seat (1). Without this, the risk of fatality or injury in the event of an accident rises by 71 per cent and 69 per cent respectively (2).

It's not only the potential injury to the child that is a problem. There is also increased risk of serious injury to the driver or front seat passenger if the car is in a "shunt" and a backseat passenger is thrown forward.

The new laws were introduced two years ago this month and the LV= research has found many drivers are ignorant of their legal duty of care. One in five (21 per cent) of those who fail to comply with the law say they are unaware the guidelines even exist.

Worryingly, one in ten of those who are aware of the guidelines say they just disregard them and don't bother to fit safety seats, despite the fact that the laws were brought in to ensure that all children are protected on the roads, to reduce fatalities and injuries.

Not only is the failure to use a proper child seat dangerous for both the passenger and the driver, it also carries a potential penalty fine of £500.

The LV= study shows that children are most at risk when travelling with friends of the family, with over a quarter (26 per cent) of those admitting to not using car child seats.

The research also found that even in cases when an appropriate car seat is used, almost a quarter of drivers (24 per cent) say they do not check the safety seat is installed properly, potentially putting their young passengers in danger.

In 2007 there were over 3,000 child casualties as a result of road accidents, including 121 fatalities (3). With such high stakes, LV= is today calling on all drivers to ensure they take every precaution and install appropriate safety equipment, to protect themselves and their passengers from harm.

John O'Roarke, Managing Director of LV= Car Insurance, said: "Huge strides have been made to improve child safety on the road in recent years, not least with the introduction of compulsory child seats in 2006. However, it's clear that many drivers are still confused about the law and for one reason or another, are not following the legislation. So we'd urge all drivers to make sure they're aware of the guidelines - child seats can take just five minutes to install and greatly reduce the chances of injury to everyone in the car."

LV= will automatically replace child safety seats for any of its policyholders whose car has been in an accident, even if the seat looks undamaged.

For more information, log on to .

Omnibus research was carried out on behalf of LV= by YouGov. A nationally representative sample of 2014 adults was questioned online between 4th and 7th August 2008. Results are weighted to be representative of the UK adult population. YouGov is a member of the British Polling Council.

1. The law says that all children up to 135cm tall (around 4'5"), or the age of 12, whichever comes first, in the front or rear seats in cars, vans and other goods vehicles must travel in the correct child restraint for their weight with very few exceptions.
Visitors to the UK from abroad must also use the correct child restraint for their children - there are no exceptions for them. Family and friends expecting visitors should make sure that their visitors understand the rules. They may need to help them make arrangements so that children use the correct child restraint at all times. Car rental companies can supply child restraints for their customers if booked in advance.

2. Kahane, 1986

3. Department for Transport Road Casualties in Great Britain: The number of children killed or seriously injured in 2007 was 3,090.