On Tuesday, July 16, 2013 a 2-year-old fell out of a vehicle that was travelling on a ramp on Toronto’s Don Valley Parkway. The rear passenger door opened while the vehicle was moving and the child car seat fell out with the toddler still strapped in it. Police believe that the child car seat was not installed properly (I would suggest that the seat wasn’t installed at all) and have charged the driver. Miraculously, the child only suffered minor injuries.
An estimated 80% of child car seats are not correctly installed. In Ontario, the fine for not using a child car seat or booster seat as required by law is up to $1,000 plus two demerit points on conviction.
The incident serves as a reminder that child car seats must be secured to the vehicle properly for them to function as designed. This should all go without saying, but clearly there are those who miss the point.
Here are some tips in terms of securing child car seats:
Make sure that the seat is securely fastened with a seatbelt OR with the UAS (universal anchorage system) latch.
If the seat is forward-facing, ensure that the rear tether strap is attached to the vehicle’s anchor. If your child seat’s manufacturer recommends using a tether when rear-facing, please follow those instructions.
The angle of the child car seat is very important whether rear- or forward-facing. Follow the instructions in your owners manual to determine the correct angle for the child car seat.
Note the amount of movement for the child car seats. Give the seat all you’ve got when you’re checking for movement! Grab it and try to move it side to side, up and down. Remember that during a collision, the impact can be quite forceful so you also need to check with some amount of force. When we install them at our shop, these seats are tight with very minimal movement. In fact, most often when we check the movement of the child car seat the vehicle moves as well because it’s installed that tight.
Lastly, most vehicles come with child safety locks in the rear doors. These locks prevent the doors from being opened on the inside. Although it may be inconvenient because you can only open the rear doors from the outside, if you have a restless or mischievous kid or if you want to proactively prevent a young child from mistakenly opening the door, this is a good option. Also helps prevent the doors from accidentally being opened too hard and hitting a parked car.
*This blog post was previously published on the Yummy Mummy Club website*