An increasing number of second-hand child car seats are being sold in the UK, Sainsbury's car insurance has warned, yet half a million drivers in the UK could be using a model that is no longer safe.
The insurer found 453 'used' child car seats for sale on auction site eBay in June 2012 compared with 131 from the same time three years ago. It suggests second-hand car seats are growing in popularity, yet many parents are probably unaware of the dangers of strapping their offspring in a used car seat.
“If a child car seat has already been involved in an accident, it’s extremely difficult to know if it is still functioning properly and that it isn't harbouring any hidden faults. Therefore, if you can’t be sure of its history, you could be strapping your child into a seat that potentially provides reduced protection," said Ben Tyte, head of Sainsbury’s Car Insurance.
The report also suggests almost half a million drivers have travelled with a child in a car seat that wasn't correctly fitted, and that 100,000 drivers failed to replace a car seat after having an accident.
Tyte added: "When many families’ incomes are squeezed it is no surprise that parents will be trying to save money where they can -- if you feel that you absolutely must use a second-hand car seat our advice would be to purchase or acquire a seat from somebody you know, a friend or family member who'll be able to reassure you as to the seat's history. We would not recommend purchasing a seat from an online auction site or a car boot sale."
Sainsbury's car insurance recommends you seek professional guidance from a retailer if you are unsure about which one you should buy for your car and how to install it, but also offered a few tips of its own:
- --Children younger than 12 or under 135 centimetres tall require a safety seating
- --Always buy the right car seat for your child’s weight and physical development
- --Check that the seat has an ‘E’ mark which means that it has been fully checked and meets the United Nations Regulation R44.03
- --Replace the seat accordingly as the child grows
- --Before every journey, check that the seat is securely fixed
- --Make sure the harness is firm. You should only be able to get one or two fingers between the strap and the child’s chest
- --Never modify a child car seat in any way
- --If anyone else is driving your child, make sure that they know how to fit the seat and check it is still functioning properly
Unsurprisingly, Sainsbury's car insurance says it covers the cost of replacing child car seats after an accident as standard on its comprehensive policies.