Car Seats Fail to Prevent Children from Unbuckling Themselves: Study

Car seat designs are unable to prevent more than half of all children from unbuckling themselves, according to the findings of a recent study by U.S. researchers. 

The child car seat study was presented earlier this month at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academy Societies in Denver by researchers from Yale School of Medicine.

Researchers said that children who were able to unbuckle themselves from car seats were at a 3.5-fold increased risk of suffering a serious injury in an auto accident. Car crashes are the leading killer of children between the ages of 4 and 8.

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The researchers surveyed 378 parents, more than half of whom reported that their children had unbuckled themselves from their car seat at least once. In 75 percent of those cases, the child was age 3 or younger. More than 40 percent of the incidents occurred while the vehicle was in motion. The youngest children that were able to unbuckle themselves were about one year old.

In most cases, parents pulled over and reprimanded the child and buckled them in again, researchers said. However, there is no guarantee the child was much safer. Other studies have shown that 75% of parents are either installing car seats incorrectly or do not have their child strapped in properly.

The researchers said more studies need to be conducted to find better car seat designs that would prevent a child from self-unbuckling. One idea floated by lead researcher Lilia Reyes was the inclusion of safety locks in car seat designs that would lock the seat belt in place and prevent it from being opened.

“Perhaps passive safety locks on the seatbelt can be developed as a potential option for intervention,” Reyes said in a Yale press release. “Keeping precious cargo safe is our duty.”


  • BobJune 4, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Hi, Here in the UK one of the things we use to help educate children the importance of wearing a seat belt is a fun and memorable seat belt safety song. Bob

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