Youngsters, up until they are 135 centimetres in height, or 12 years old, need to sit in a child seat before safety belts will restrain them sufficiently in the event of an accident. Children risk getting internal injuries, or slipping through the webbing and getting thrown around the car without that extra height and padding.
One in five parents, however, is unaware that even a low-speed collision might damage the safety features of their child’s seat. In the same way as motorcycle helmets may not look damaged after a crash, the seats are designed to absorb impact and could be weakened if another accident occurred.
Maggie Game, head of car insurance at Direct Line, says, "What might seem like a minor accident can undermine your child’s safety if you are involved in a subsequent collision.
"Even minor accidents can weaken restraints which are critical to protecting your child in an emergency. Motorists with child seats should contact their insurer following an accident to check if they will pay for a replacement even if there is no apparent damage."
Car buyers should also check that the seats which fit their existing cars can be fitted into their new vehicle before they make the exchange. An incorrectly fitted seat will offer worse protection than no seat at all in some instances. Car dealers should be able to advise parents what the best solution might be.