At In Car Safety Centre, we are aware that buying children’s car seats can seem daunting to many parents. There are many rules and regulations which are updated frequently, along with countless combinations of cars, children and circumstances. Therefore, we are doing everything we can to ensure that parents have access to key information and the best advice available on car seats.
To get a sense of parents views and opinions around car seats and to draw attention to the importance of car seat safety and best practices, we conducted a public survey. It received 1,048 responses (thank you!) and has revealed some really interesting insights.
There were no right or wrong answers, however, some answers would be considered safer and more aligned to best practices than others. We’ve explained why below. Some best practices may even surprise you as they go against conventional wisdom.
Below are the results of the survey along with expert recommendations and best-practise advice.
When you bought your car seat, what was the most important deciding factor?
While safety ratings are important, a car seat is only safe when used correctly and under the right conditions. A car seat with a perfect safety rating could be ineffective if it has not been matched with a car and child, or correctly installed.
Therefore, we believe that the most important factor when buying a car seat is always car/child compatibility. Getting the right car seat for both your car and child is paramount to ensuring that the seat works as intended.
Which sources of information do you rely on most when buying a car seat?
Some car seats do offer advantages and conveniences over others and in that sense, they could be considered “better”. However, all children’s car seats sold in the UK are made to EU standards and so there are no “bad” seats strictly speaking. Furthermore, a well-reviewed, recommended (or much “liked”) car seat could be unsuitable for your child and needs.
Therefore, we advise parents to remember that reviews, social media and peer-to-peer advice can be subjective. I.e. there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach and what works for someone, won’t work for everyone.
The best way to ensure you’re getting the right seat is to have the seat matched (in-person or online) by an unbiased retailer - and preferably one that is trained and knowledgeable. This enables you to try before you buy and have the seat checked to make sure it fits both the car and child properly.
Was your car seat matched to your car and child’s needs by a trained expert?
Online car seat compatibility checkers will tell you if a seat is technically “approved” for your car but that is only one piece of the puzzle. They will not tell you what the most suitable car seat is for your individual needs and circumstances.
Therefore, it’s important that seats are matched to both the child and car and, preferably, by a trained expert. Where possible, we recommend in-store appointments so one of our assistants can help you choose the best, safest option. That way we can get the necessary measurements and you can have the seat installed to ensure it is set up correctly. However, if you are unable to come to our showroom we can consult over the phone and even on email.
Do you think that more expensive car seats are made to be safer?
By conventional wisdom, “more expensive” generally means “better”. So you might expect a more expensive car seat to be safer. However, this isn't technically true for car seats. All seats sold in the UK are manufactured to EU standards. Price often reflects additional benefits but it does not necessarily mean its “safer in an accident”.
This means that some may be spending more on car seats than they need to. In fact, the safest, most compatible car seat can sometimes be the cheaper option. At In Car Safety Centre, we can often save our customers money by ensuring they buy the right seat, the safest seat, not the most expensive seat.
Would you be more tempted to buy a car seat that was on a promotional sale?
Everyone likes to receive a good deal, however, a deal is only a good deal when it’s the right product for your needs. When buying a car seat, it's important that you are getting the right seat and consider a good deal an added bonus.
Whilst In Car Safety Centre sometimes do offers, we match seats with cars and children’s needs first and advise our customers to get the most suitable seats over the cheapest - or most expensive.
Have you ever bought, sold or used a second-hand car seat?
Most parents are aware of the risks of using a second-hand car seat, yet we know circumstances sometimes prevent best practices. If you use a second-hand car seat, please try and check the following:
- - The seat is manufactured to the current standard
- - That it is still in warranty (or within its expiry date)
- - There are no broken/missing parts
- - That instructions are available
- - The seat has not been involved in a recall
- - And obviously - that it’s not been in a collision
You can read more about the dangers of used car seats here.
Have you ever used a seat gifted or provided by a family member or friend?
It is quite common for consumers to buy car seats for family and friends, however, we encourage these customers not to gift car seats. Instead, In Car Safety Centre offer gift vouchers in order that the recipient can bring their car and child to our showroom and we can help find them the perfect car seat. We will also install it there and then, for free.
Was your car seat professionally installed?
Where possible, we recommend having a knowledgeable expert install your car seat or check your installation. Our online customers are encouraged to send us photos of the installed seat so that we can check, as best we can, in the absence of an examination in-person.
If you installed the car seat yourself, did you find it difficult?
Most modern car seats are fairly intuitive and easy to install, however, there are many variables in cars, seats, children and setups, and manufactures cannot be expected to provide a perfect solution for every situation. There are a few hidden dangers that many parents are not aware of.
For instance, some cars and people carriers have underfloor storage boxes that may need fillers from the car manufacturer. For belted seats, buckle crunch is a common occurrence if the seat is not compatible with the car.
Therefore, we recommend having a trained expert check that the seat has been installed correctly, either in person or via photos sent to us.
When do/did you plan for your children to use forward-facing car seats?
Nearly half of those surveyed plan to move to forward-facing seats as late as possible (therefore keeping their children in rear-facing car seats for as long as possible). However, 1 in 4 plan to move to forward-facing car seats as soon as possible and 1 in 3 plan to go forward-facing sooner than is recommended.
- “There needs to be a lot more information out there about rear-facing to age 4 and above. It needs to become the norm.” - Bonnie
- “There isn’t enough info given to new parents regarding ERF.” - Victoria
Like many of our customers, we still feel there is more to be done to promote the importance of “rear-facing for longer”. Please help us by sharing this information with your family and friends.
Thank you to everyone who took part in our survey. The amount of interest we received in this survey really is a testament to how special our customers are.