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November 19th 2019

Road Traffic Accidents

Are you one of the many parents making this common mistake with car seats this winter, which puts babies and toddlers at extra risk?

Karen Smith

Karen Smith

Senior Litigation Executive and Manager of Personal Injury

Are you one of the many parents making this common mistake with car seats this winter, which puts babies and toddlers at extra risk?

As we move into the winter months and following the relentless rainfall we’ve seen in recent weeks, it’s certainly time to wrap up and protect ourselves and our children from the elements!

As we move into the winter months and following the relentless rainfall we’ve seen in recent weeks, it’s certainly time to wrap up and protect ourselves and our children from the elements!

These extra chilly mornings and evenings means that the winter coats are back out of the cupboards and in use again, as the first frost hits the ground. And for parents of babies and toddlers it is obviously essential they are wrap up their little ones well when out and about.

However, the winter months often sees many parents make a simple mistake which can be avoided when taking children out on car journeys – taking off their thick coats before strapping them into their car seats!

How does the clothing affect the risk?

The reason is simple, strapping a child into a car seat in a winter coat can leave a gap which is too big between the child and their safety harness.

Meaning that on impact, they will not be restrained effectively, and could suffer serious whiplash type injuries which could ultimately be more serious depending on the nature of the accident.

Experiments at official crash test labs, using a child dummy that appeared to be securely strapped into a car seat with a large coat on, even resulted in the dummy hurtling out of the seat in a simulated 30-mph crash.

Quite simply, it doesn’t matter how hard you tighten the straps, when a child is wearing a large winter coat they will be at risk of slipping out on impact and being injured in a crash, which can cause them to suffer broken bones and serious, life changing injuries, or even lead to fatalities.

The official report released by the *Department of Transport  in September 2019, on road casualties in Great Britain suggests the number of yearly incidents is slowly but steadily increasing, showing Great Britain experiencing more and more serious injury casualties in road traffic accidents.

Table of serious injuries on the roads

National Road Safety Week

As we at Hudgells #StepUp and take the **National Road Safety Week pledge to keep young ones secure, with temperatures set to plummet, it’s a great reminder to be extra cautious on the roads as well as inside the vehicles.

The steps to take are very simple, although it may seem an extra hassle to remove a child’s jacket, it is a step all parents of babies and toddlers who need harnesses must take.

The harness should be tight enough to only get two fingers between the child and the straps.

What safety steps should I take?

  1. Dress your child in layers so that they remain protected from the cold even without their coats on.
  2. Put the jacket over your child ‘the wrong way round’ after buckling up by popping their feet into the hood.
  3. Carry extra blankets in your car which you can use on extra chill days and then remove as the car warms up.
  4. Help to keep your child warm with hats and gloves which can be pulled off with ease once they are warm enough.
  5. Stick to these steps each time, no matter the length of the journey!

Taking extra care in providing advice and support

As solicitors who are called upon to support parents and families when children are injured in accidents on the roads, our team at Hudgells know the huge life-long impact accidents can have, with children sometimes needing long term specialist medical care.

Of course it is not something any parent wants to think about or face, and is a situation which can be avoided by just taking a few extra minutes and care when getting into the car and before setting off for a journey on the roads.

#RoadSafetyWeek #StepUp

*Source: Gov.co.uk Department for Transport, Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain: 2019 Annual Report (26th September, 2019).

** Brake Charity Road Safety Week 2019 (18-24th November)

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