Road safety and our children

Each year in Quebec, around 1,250 car passengers aged 9 years or under, die or are injured in car accidents1.

A good car seat is the solution. When correctly installed, it can reduce up to 70% the probabilities of death and severe injuries. According to a study led in 2007, 2 children out of 3 are not safe in cars. Indeed, while 83 % of them are using a seat that is appropriate for their weight and age, in only 41% cases, these car seat are properly installed and the child is correctly attached 2.

Even today, 1.4 % of children are not attached, whether by a car seat or by a seatbelt. Sometimes, children are even sitting on their parent’s lap or standing on the backseat3.

At a speed of 50 km/h, the weight of moving objects is multiplied 35 times. In case of impact, a 9kg child would become a 315kg projectile that could crash on the dashboard or be ejected from the vehicle4.

You only have a short way to go? Be sure to install your child in his seat because more than half of the accidents occur in 50km/h zones and within 8km from home.

In a car, children who measure less than 63 cm when seated (between the seat and the top of their head) must be seated in an appropriate seat for their weight. Violators could be fines $115 to $154 and earn 3-demerit points5.

When travelling in a taxi and without a car seat, children must use a seatbelt unless they are too small to remain seated on their own.

But having a car seat is not enough: it must be well chosen, well installed and it must securely fasten the child.

Whether your child is big or small, it is your responsibility.

How to choose a car seat?

When choosing a car seat, make sure to buy one that is adapted to the weight of your child, meaning6:

  • A newborn seat for babies weighing less than 9-10 kg (20-22 lbs.);
    • Always installed at the back;
    • Rear facing: in a collision, his neck and ribcage will absorb the impact in a better way.
    • Make sure that your baby’s head does not exceed the top of the backrest. He will be protected against further injuries to the neck and head if a sudden stop occurs7.
  • A child seat for children weighing 9 to 18 kg (20 to 40 lbs.), or 9 to 30 kg (20 to 65 lbs.) if your car allows;
  • A booster seat for children over 18 kg (40 lbs.);
    • Allows to adjust the belt to the collarbone and hip;
    • The seatbelt should never be slipped behind the back of your child9.

Until your child is one year old, he must be rear-facing9. If he has reached the maximum weight for his newborn seat and is not yet a year old, buy a child seat that can be placed rear-facing. When your child reaches his first birthday, you can install it facing forward.

A child seat should only be used for car transportation. During his first months of life, it is not advisable to leave your child in his seat for more than an hour. During long journeys, take frequent breaks to change his position and hold him in your arms. The car seat should not be used as a sleeping device because it is not as safe to sleep in10

Until what age should we use a booster seat11?

It is not the age of the child that determines when the booster seat is no longer needed, but his weight and size. If the child is not big enough and if his legs are not long enough, he will tend to slide under the belt to be comfortable and avoid resting his calves on the tip of the seat. In case of accident, this position can result in serious injury to the spine or internal organs because it places his seatbelt on his stomach rather than his hips.

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