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78% Failure Rate at Oakville Car-Seat Check: GRADE "F"

You wouldn’t go on a roller coaster without first taking the time to buckle yourself up and checking that you’re securely fastened ready to take on the upside-down thrill. So why is it that some parents seem to be taking short cuts when it comes to properly installing and using infant and child car seats? The risk is greater because the chance of being in a motor vehicle collision far outweighs the chance of a roller coaster malfunction.

However, at a recent local spot check car seat clinic over three quarters (78%) of vehicles checked failed inspection. In one instance, a five-year old was not in a car seat at all.  Sadly, the statistics from other clinics held across Halton Region are not much better, and the main excuse heard from parents? “I didn’t know.”

Properly installing car seats is actually easier than ever because all vehicles now have built-in anchors for tethers or a Universal Anchorage System, but it doesn’t seem to be making a difference. Either parents do not take the time to read manuals or understand the laws, or they are in a rush to move their children up to the next stage of seat or out of a car seat altogether because the most common errors at the Oakville clinic were: a child not in the proper seat for their age and stage (e.g., moved to booster seat too soon); no tether strap attached for forward-facing car seats; straps far too loose; or shoulder straps not properly adjusted for the size of the child. These are all serious errors that could result in significant injuries or death.

Some easy tips for parents and caregivers:

  • Learn the law and the different stages of car seat use—and remember the current laws in Ontario are only the minimum standards to be followed when anyone is travelling with a child (even if not their own). The Halton Partners for Car Seat Safety who ran the clinic recommend children stay in each stage for a longer period of time for greater safety.
  • Read the car seat manual for proper installation instructions and to understand the height and weight restrictions of the seat you are using.
  • Properly buckle your children EVERY time they ride in the car.
  • Attend community presentations and have car seats inspected.
  • Set a good example for friends and families.
  • Talk to your older children about why you are keeping them in a car seat longer. It shows you value them.
  • Visit to educate yourself.

If you want more help, call Halton Region to talk to a public health nurse or car seat technician by dialing 311, because it’s not enough to say “I didn’t know”.