Intended for healthcare professionals


Child safety in cars

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 07 December 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:1183

Caution Over Child Seat Car Safety Laws

Dear Sir,

We read the article by Michael Hayes on child safety in cars with
great interest1. However, we are concerned that the European-compliant law
of 18 September 2006 regarding safety regulations for children over 3
years of age may actually contribute towards significant increased numbers
of injuries and fatalities. This new legislation has resulted in massive
extra sales of children’s car safety seats2. Many car journeys will
necessarily be made without child passengers and therefore many safety
seats will be left unsecured in the back of the car. It is widely accepted
that unsecured projectiles in cars can be lethal in the event of a crash,
typically increasing the weight of the item by twenty times3. Indeed, this
concern led to the development of legislation in Holland enforcing that
all heavy objects within a vehicle be secured4. Our concern is that that
the UK legislation will lead to a significant rise in injuries and
fatalities arising from increased numbers of unsecured car safety seats
acting as potential projectiles when the child is not in the car.

Unfortunately, this issue was not factored into the risk assessment when
the legislation was made5. Currently, statistics of in-car injuries from
unsecured projectiles in the UK is not collected5. While we believe any
legislation that improves overall safety is welcome, we would value an
urgent risk-assessment to ensure that the new law does not cause overall
more death and injury than it is designed to prevent.

Reference List

(1) Michael Hayes. Child safety in cars. BMJ 2006; 333:1183-1184.

(2) Halfords steers steady course. 23-11-2006.

(3) Lethal Weapons. 1-1-2007.

(4) Peijs wil verbod op losse spullen in de auto. 19-7-0005.

(5) Road User Safety Division of Department for Transport. 2007.

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

05 January 2007
Adam C Frosh
Consultant ENT Surgeon
Jonathan Wernick
Lister Hospital, STevenage, SG3 6ST