The ABCs of car seats

The ABCs of car seats

One in two car seats does not adequately protect your child… Here are few tips on making sure your little one stays safe.

The numbers

In Quebec, one in every two car seats is not installed correctly. Despite the fact that 83.3% of children under 5 use a car seat corresponding to their height and weight, only 61.6% of the seats are used correctly. This high percentage stems from the fact that car seats are not properly fastened to the car and children are not correctly fastened to the seat.

When used properly, a car seat reduces the risk of death and severe injury in an accident by 70%.

When a vehicle travelling at 50 km/h is in a collision, the impact multiplies the weight of the occupants and objects by a factor of 20, hence the importance of properly fastening your child.

It’s the law

Not only are you putting your child at risk, but the improper use of a car seat is a violation of the Highway Safety Code that is punishable by fine and demerit points.

Before choosing a car seat

With all the models and brands available on the market, it’s not easy to choose a car seat. Follow this simple advice to make protecting your child your main priority:

  • The Transport Canada compliance logo must appear on the car seat
  • When buying, try a test-installation in your car or check the retailer’s return policy should it not be possible to install the seat correctly in your vehicle
  • Be sure to have the car seat instruction manual and your vehicle’s owner’s guide because they are required for proper installation
  • Although it may be tempting, don’t buy a car seat from the U.S. where safety standards are different than in Canada
  • Don’t forget to register your car seat (online or by mail). In doing so, you will be warned in case of a product recall or safety advisory.

Which car seat do you choose and how do you installit?

3-in-1 convertibles, boosters or infant seats… there are tons of options. Remember that the car seat must be adapted to the height and weight of your child and that there are three types of car seats to transition to before moving on to the seatbelt.

1. Infant seat… up to 10 KG

This is the seat you use for newborns until they weigh more than 10 kg (22 lbs), regardless of age and size.

It is always rear-facing. This is a safer position because in most collisions, the body is thrust forward. When facing the rear, a child’s body will sink into the seat, allowing their back and neck to better absorb the shock.

 

Make sure that…

  • the seat is inclined according to the manufacturer’s recommendations
  • the seat does not wiggle more than 2.5 cm (1 in.) from side-to-side and does not move towards the front
  • the chest clip that clips together the straps is at your child’s underarm level
  • the straps must be tight enough to let one finger slide between them and your child’s chest

 

2. Child seat… for toddlers over 10 KG (22 LBS)

Before transitioning to the toddler seat, consult the instruction manual for the minimum weight requirement.

 

Even if your child’s feet touch the back of the seat, keep it rear-facing, because their head, neck and chest will be better protected in an accident.

Make sure that…

  • the seat is well-fastened and does not wiggle more than 2.5 cm (1 in.) from side-to-side and does not move towards the front
  • the chest clip that clips together the straps is at your child’s underarm level
  • the straps are tight enough to let one finger slide between them and your child’s chest

3. Booster seat… for children weighing over 18 KG (40 LBS)

 

This seat is designed to boost your child so that the seatbelt will come across the child’s collarbone and hips (not their neck and stomach).

There are many types of booster seats, both with and without backs.

4. Last but not the least, the seatbelt!

Is your child old enough to lose the booster seat? Don’t be too hasty.

Make sure that:

  • their knees bend at the seat’s edge when they are properly seated the distance from their buttocks to the top of their head is more than 63 cm (25 in.) when seated.
  • Once fastened, the seatbelt must come across the child’s collarbone and hips (not their neck and stomach).
 
 

Becoming a car seat pro

The manufacturer’s guide will indicate how to properly install the car seat. It will also indicate when to change for a car seat better suited to your child’s weight.

Regardless of the type of car seat, it must be installed on the rear seat. This is the furthest distance from the points of impact in frontal collisions, which are more frequent than side or rear impacts.

Never install a car seat on the front seat because of the air bag.

Adjusting the straps and seatbelt can be more difficult when children wear winter clothes. Always take the time to properly secure them or consider buying a seat cover that is just as warm as a snowsuit… to avoid unnecessary tears.

When in doubt, have your car seat checked

If you are worried that the car seat is not correctly installed or unsafe, schedule a meeting with one of the members of the Child car seat verification network.

What about used car seats?

The Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) does not recommend the use of second-hand car seats, even for short travel in a grandparent’s car, for example.

If you decide to get a used car seat, follow these guidelines:

  • The expiration date has not passed
  • The Transport Canada compliance label is still on the seat
  • The instruction manual is included
  • No part of the car seat is damaged or missing
  • The car seat was never in a vehicle that was involved in an accident
  • The car seat was never the subject of a factory recall or safety advisory (check with the Motor Vehicle Safety Recalls Database)

Selling or lending a car seat manufactured before 2012 is illegal.

In case of accident

Get a new car seat when your old one is involved in an accident. Even if your child was not in the seat at the time of impact or it seems intact, it may have cracked to the point of being unsafe.

In general, car seats are covered by your insurance policy. Call your insurance company to check.

For more information

In collaboration with:
Mario Vaillancourt
Media Relations Liaison
Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec