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November 19th 2018

Road Traffic Accidents

The common mistake parents make with car seats in winter which puts babies and toddlers at extra risk

Karen Smith

Karen Smith

Manager of Personal Injury

The common mistake parents make with car seats in winter which puts babies and toddlers at extra risk

Weather reports are suggesting winter will start to take hold this week with a significant drop in temperatures and some areas even told to prepare for snow.

Weather reports are suggesting winter will start to take hold this week with a significant drop in temperatures and some areas even told to prepare for snow.

It means the winter coats will be back out of cupboards and in use again, and for parents of babies and toddlers it is obviously essential they are wrapped up well to protect them from the elements when out and about.

However, the winter months often sees many parents repeatedly make a basic mistake when caring for their children – not removing their thick coats before strapping them into their car seats.

If parents are involved in a road traffic accident, and their children are in their seats still in large, puffy coats, it can cause them to suffer broken bones and serious, life-changing injuries, or even lead to fatalities.

The reason is simple, as 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.

That means that on impact, they will not be restrained effectively, and could suffer serious whiplash type injuries.

Tests have shown children can be thrown from seats despite harness being in place

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.

Given today marks the start of the national Road Safety Week, and with temperatures set to plummet, we thought it was an ideal time to remind parents of this danger.

The steps to take are simple, and although at times – especially on the coldest of winter days and evenings –  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 advice is that the harness should be tight enough to only get two fingers between your child and the straps.

You can keep your child warm with hats and gloves, and by replacing their coat with a blanket that is tucked in over the harness once they are strapped in correctly, and tucked under their arm pits.

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

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

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