Two thirds of child car seats not fitted correctly

25,000 children at risk in car collisions

16 February 2009

ISOFIX is a simple way of attaching child seats into a car

AA launches range of AA approved Britax child car seats to highlight the benefits of ISOFIX

Two thirds of child car seats are not fitted correctly1 and over 83% of drivers are not aware of UK car seat legislation reveals research by the AA2 and Britax.

Difficulty fitting child seats

The research from 16,500 respondents – which included grandparents3 for the first time – found that only a quarter of all people admitted experiencing difficulty in fitting a child car seat despite evidence that two thirds of seats are not fitted correctly.


Even more surprisingly, 66% of respondents stated that they didn't know that the law requires children up to the age of 12 to use a car seat and 80% of them were not aware that UK law requires children under the height of 135cms to use a child seat.


The research also revealed that grandparents had even less awareness with 74% stating that they didn't know the age range over which the law requires children to use a car seat and 86% didn't know the minimum height requirements.

UK law introduced in 2006, actually requires all children travelling in cars to use the correct child restraint until they are either 135cms in height or the age of 12 (which ever they reach first). This research highlights that the law may not always be followed and with over 25,000 child passengers involved in car collisions each year, the AA and Britax urge drivers to review their car seat safety this half term.


And there is a solution to the problem of seats not fitted correctly - ISOFIX a standard system developed for fitting child seats. The idea is simple – car manufacturers provide small and inconspicuous attachment points in standard locations in new cars which ISOFIX car seats lock directly onto reducing the risk of child seats being fitted incorrectly.

6 million cars have ISOFIX

The AA estimates at least 6 million cars (around 25% of all cars) are fitted with standardised ISOFIX fittings. Despite this the research revealed that 74% of drivers were not aware of ISOFIX.

AA comment

AA president Edmund King installs one of the new AA approved Britax ISOFIX child car seats "It's shocking that despite the great safety advances in child seat design over the past 12 years that such significant numbers of child car seats are still fitted incorrectly," said Edmund King, president of the Automobile Association.

"Our children and grandchildren are our most precious cargo so we must do all we can to keep them safe and keep within the law.

"In the AA Populus Panel poll, safety, the child's comfort and clear instructions ranked above price or fabric of seats. We recommend that parents choose an ISOFIX seat if it is compatible with their car."

Britax comment

Ian Watson Britax European managing director added: "Britax launched ISOFIX technology in co-operation with VW in 1997 and the safety system is designed to minimise installation errors and reduce the risk of misuse through standardised fitting points between child seats and a vehicle.

"These fittings mean that if you're moving your child's car seat between cars, for example, to a grandparent's car, fitting is easier and there is less chance of a car seat being fitted incorrectly."

AA Populus panel findings - ISOFIX

  • 74% drivers don't know what ISOFIX is
  • 26% said they knew what ISOFIX was
  • Men (31%) and those who cared for children (44%) were more likely to say they knew
  • Of those who said that they didn't know what ISOFIX was:
    • 11% said it was a device to reduce toxic exhaust emissions
    • 3% said it was a universal roof rack attachment
    • 2% said it was a system to stop windscreen washers freezing up
    • 2% said it was tie-down hooks in the boot to stop luggage sliding around
  • 36% of panellists said that they did not have the anchorage points required to attach an ISOFIX seat
  • 29% said they did with 8% saying that they did and that they actually used an ISOFIX restraint
  • 35% didn't know if they had ISOFIX anchorage points

AA approved Britax ISOFIX child seats

the AA has introduced a range of AA approved Britax ISOFIX child seats
As a result of this research the AA has developed with Britax a range of AA approved car seats for children from birth to approximately 12 years old, all of which utilise ISOFIX.

The AA approved Britax ISOFIX seats are almost impossible to fit incorrectly and can be used in non-ISOFIX cars by utilising the adult seat-belts.

The new AA approved range of Britax Car Seats is available at Mothercare stores, online at or by phone on 08453 304030. Those buying an AA approved Britax Car Seat can get up to 50% off AA Personal Membership.


the AA approved Britax ISOFIX babysafe plus

Group 0+

from birth to 13kg (birth to approximately 12-15 months)

- ISOFIX system
- ISOFIX Foot prop giving extra stability
- 5-point safety harness with one pull adjustment
- Height adjustable – headrest and harness
- Side Impact Protection


the AA approved Britax SAFEFIX plus

Group 1

from 9kg to 18kg (9 months to approximately 4 years)

- ISOFIX system
- ISOFIX Pivot link system increases child's safety
- Click and Safe audible safety system indicates when harness has been tightened sufficiently
- 5-point safety harness with one pull adjustment
- Side Impact Protection
- ISOFIX Foot prop giving extra stability


the AA approved Brtiax KIDFIX

Group 2-3

from 15kg to 36kg (4 years to approximately 12 years)

- ISOFIX system - Set shape – correctly positions lap belt over child's pelvis - Seat belt guide – correctly positions diagonal belt over child's shoulder - Side impact protection - Height adjustable – headrest and backrest - Multi-recline position

Britax 'Fitfinder'

To find out whether a car is fitted with ISOFIX visit where you'll find the Britax Fit-Finder where you can enter the age and weight of your child along with the manufacturer, model and specification of your car.

'Pivot Link'

Britax has further advanced the ISOFIX technology by developing a unique patented ISOFIX Pivot Link system of ISOFIX connectors that attach to the seat via an L-shaped link.

The solution allows the seat to move in two stages in case of frontal accident. In the first stage the seat rotates in the opposite direction to a standard ISOFIX seat, the movement to the rear is activated by the Pivot Link system and so the minimising the child's forward movement. In the second stage the seat rotates far more gently.


1Statistic based on results from the Walsall Trading Standard and Road Safety unit who checked 216 child seats over 4 days and found that only 32.5% were fitted correctly (Aug/Sept 2008)

2Research conducted by the AA Populus Panel in Sept 2008 of 7,971 drivers

3Saga Populus Panel Survey conducted in December 2008 of 8,445 grandparents

Join the discussion in the AA zone


16 February 2009