I don’t think child car seats existed when I was growing up, much less awareness of child car seat safety. I remember Mum collecting a load of kids from school and we all just piled in and sat on top of each other. On our family holidays we always got the ferry and drove to France or Spain (air travel was prohibitively expensive then), and with four kids, myself and my two sisters used to sit in the back and my brother got the ‘best seat in the house’.. in the boot (trunk) of the car in between all the luggage! Even now, Anya is seven years old and when she was a baby, I wasn’t aware of extended rearward facing seats. Technology and car seat safety are advancing so quickly now.
Working at The Stork Exchange we’ve realised that there are differences in legislation from country to country. In America, buckle clips (to stop little houdini escaping the harness) are allowed, whereas you can’t buy even them in Ireland. In Australia apparently you have to show a certificate at the maternity hospital to prove your car seat was professionally installed, whereas here you have to show the car seat. Scandinavians keep their children rearward facing a lot longer than most – up to the age of 6/7, I’m told. Our customers in Australia told me last year that you can’t buy booster cushions there anymore. I started researching it and realised that neither Maxi Cosi nor Britax manufacture booster cushions because they don’t believe they offer the same level of safety as the highback booster. Then only recently I read that UK government are reviewing that very issue, so hopefully it’ll be taken up here with the RSA. Regardless we decided to follow their lead and we don’t offer booster cushions for hire at all anymore.
At one of our training sessions with Britax our trainer explained to us what happens in a collision, even one at 40mph. She described how a box of tissues becomes like a brick with the force of the collision. She told us how, on another training session with a different group, one of the women there told them she had taken a corner too quickly and rolled her car. Her handbag was beside her on the passenger seat and her mobile phone flew out and smashed her jaw. Last summer at Dublin Airport, we heard how one visitor was killed on the first day of her holiday when she drove around the corner on the wrong side of the road. During the three years working at the The Stork Exchange, three of our customers have been in accidents; one was a serious smash between two trucks, one skidded on ice and the car ended up in the ditch, but thankfully in all three cases everyone walked away ok. It’s something I never thought could really happen to me, but hearing these stories from customers gives me a horrible chill.
Irish Road Safety Authority’s Car Seat Safety Legislation
At The Stork Exchange we’ve put Car Seat Safety at the core of our business ethos and it’s something we feel strongly about. Everything we do, we try and reinforce this ethos; from installing car seats for our customers and checking each piece of equipment before it’s hired out, to annual training sessions for staff and passing on all our learning in our blogs. (Have a look at blogs such as ‘The Safest Position for a Child Seat’ or ‘5 Common Installation Mistakes’ here http://blog.thestorkexchange.ie/category/car-seat-safety/ . We are runner’s up in the Road Safety Authority’s ‘Leading Lights competition for ‘Best Safety Initiative in the business category (we’re going for it again this year and want to win!) and big supporters of their Check it Fits campaign. Please feel free to use this blog category to look up answers or queries and feel free to post questions, we are happy to answer of we know, and research it if we don’t. For all my blogs on car seat safety, click here http://blog.thestorkexchange.ie/category/car-seat-safety/