The subject of child seats can be difficult. There are numerous makes/models on the market. In addition, instruction manuals can be lengthy and sometimes difficult to read.
A child seat is designed for one impact and one impact only. Any child seat involved in a motor vehicle collision MUST be replaced, whether or not the seat is occupied at the time of the collision. Most insurance companies will cover the replacement of the child seat as part of the collision claim.
What does the law say? The following is a brief overview of the Highway Traffic Act Regulation 613:
- Infants less than 20 lbs shall be secured in a rearward-facing child restraint system.
- Toddlers 20 to 40 lbs, who are being transported in a vehicle that is owned, leased or regularly used by the toddlers parent or legal guardian, shall be secured in an appropriate child restraint.
- Any infant or toddler seat being used must conform to the requirements under the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Act. The seat must be secured by the pelvic restraint system of a seat belt assembly in the manner recommended by the manufacturer of the child restraint system and, where practicable, by all other anchorage straps and devices recommended by the manufacturer, and has all harness, straps, and buckles designed to secure the child in the restraint system properly adjusted and securely fastened.
There are several deficiencies or errors that are routinely found when dealing with the transportation of children in child restraints. In order to properly restrain a child two things have to happen:
- The child seat must be secured properly; and,
- The child must be secured properly within the seat.
Some common problems found are:
- No seat is being used at all, or the improper type of seat is being used;
- The seat is not being held in the vehicle properly by the vehicles seatbelt (ie: too loose or wrong seatbelt path being used);
- The harness which is required to hold the child in the seat are commonly found to be too loose, straps are twisted or the straps are in the wrong position for the child's size. Straps should be snug with no more than one fingers slack.
- The chest clip, which keeps the shoulder straps in place, are not attached or positioned properly (must be at armpit level); and,
- Required tether straps not being used. Tether strap violations are very common and easy for any officer to see. All forward facing car seats in Canada are required to use a tether strap, in conjunction with the vehicle seatbelt. If it is not being used the seat will not perform to the standards set out by the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Act. The strap is attached to the car seat and to an anchorage location in the vehicle and reduces the amount of movement of a child's head if involved in a collision. Tether strap attached from back of car seat to an anchorage location.
Other key points to consider regarding transportation of children:
- Drivers are responsible for all passengers under 16 years of age;
- Children should be kept away from air bags. Passengers under 12 years of age are safest in the back seat;
- Seats older than 10 years, seats that show signs of deterioration, or are older than the manufacturer's expiry date, should not be used;
- Childs seats may be recalled by manufacturers. This can be checked by contacting the manufacturer directly, or through Transport Canada; and,
- Training regarding child seats is now governed by a national training program through St. John Ambulance. The training consists of a two day course, as well as participation in actual car seat inspections.
On May 4th, 2004, the Government introduced a Bill proposing changes to the Highway Traffic Act. The law requires booster seats for pre-school to primary-grade-aged children weighing between 18 kg and 36 kg (40lbs to 80 lbs), with a standing height of less than 145 cm (4'10" inches) or a maximum age of 8 years. It also extends the mandatory use of child car seats to caregivers such as grandparents and babysitters.
- Four out of five children in Canada are not properly restrained while travelling in vehicles.
- Car collisions are the number one cause of death for children aged one to nine.
- When properly restrained, a children's chance of being injured or killed in a crash is reduced by 75 per cent.
Having children not properly restrained in a car is not only unsafe for your child/children, but also a violation under the Highway Traffic Act.
The penalty for this offence is a total fine of $240.00 and two demerit points, will be placed against your licence (by the Ministry of Transportation). If you are charged with this offence, please take immediate action to have the problems corrected. PLEASE read your car seat instructions and vehicle owner's manual for information about the proper use of your child seat.
Transport Canada is responsible for
- The development and enforcement of safety regulations,
- raising awareness and sharing information,
- investigating public complaints, and
- conducting research to identify risk areas that can be addressed through education or regulation.
"Each of us - parents, caregivers, federal, provincial and territorial governments, educators, police officers, and child seat manufacturers - must do our part to make road travel safer for children." - Transport Canada
Transport Canada provides educational resources such as:
The Ministry of Transportation provide educational material and instructional videos