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March 08, 2006

How a car seat can ruin your day

Well it can't really. Not at all. (Unless you've installed it incorrectly of course).

Driving a car is probably the single most dangerous thing that any of us do in life. Riding in a car bears a similar risk. Seatbelts have been found to greatly reduce the risk and severity of injuries in road accidents. Children don't really fit into adult seats, and thus should be provided with appropriate child seats or booster cushions.

And so you'd thought people might welcome new legislation demanding that children are provided with adequate safety restraints in cars. But no, not the Torygraph. I thought this article was perfect for a good fisking.

Sometime soon - possibly as early as September - the risk of being stopped for driving a car full of children will increase very greatly. This will be after New Labour has rubber-stamped European directive 2003/20/EC, requiring that most children up to the age of 10 (and shorter children of 11) must be strapped into special child seats or made to sit on booster cushions.

Good, seems perfectly reasonable to me. I sat on a booster cushion for much of my young life. It was especially useful in that it made me high enough to be able to see out of the window. Nowadays it finds new use as a kneeling cushion.

We have all become so used to Tony Blair's restrictions on our liberties that this latest impertinence has attracted barely any comment in the British press (apart from a couple of sound observations from my colleague Alice Thomson, who knows a thing or two about the difficulties of persuading young children to belt up).

Hmm, could it be that most of the vocal commentators have realised that this legislation is a good thing? That would certainly explain the silence. And, Alice Thomson, perhaps you'd bear in mind that it's difficult to persuade young children to do many things. The fact that belting up might save their lives doesn't appear to enter into the argument here.

In fact, the new law will cause quite a lot of inconvenience and expense to a great many people. What about grandparents, uncles and aunts who occasionally help out by picking up their grandchildren, nephews and nieces from school? From this autumn, they will all have to fit special seats for the under-10s, or risk an on-the-spot fine of £30, increased to £500 if they dare to make a fuss about it in court.

I think you'll find it adds very little inconvenience and expense. I'm sure the grandparents, uncles and aunts will be very welcome to borrow the parents' car seat. Let's also try and remember that fitting a car seat isn't rocket science, and they do tend to fit a wide range of cars. It honestly won't take you more than five minutes.

And what about the utter humiliation of short 11-year-olds (under "135cm", whatever that may mean), who will be required to sit on baby-seats, while their younger and taller siblings are allowed to use adult safety belts?

Maybe they should be given counselling sessions at the government's expense. If this is really the best objection this guy can come up with, then I'm proud the legislation has been passed.

At this point the article devolves into a mindless rant, filled with anecdotal discussion which bears no real relevance to anything. Finally the last paragraph dawns.

There are few more cheering sights to be seen anywhere than an estate car, overloaded with children on their way to a treat. You will notice that it is
always the children lying on their tummies in the luggage compartment, waving or sticking their tongues out at the driver behind, who are the happiest. Let's all try to enjoy life, instead of merely struggling to prolong it.

Yes, and it'll be the children lying on their tummies in the luggage compartment who will fly through the front window of the car and into the road if the car gets involved in a crash. But I'm sure this can't really cause injury... maybe when you've finished picking the glass out of the corpse he'll look fit to bury.

I am now wholly convinced that the best possible start will be to pull out of the European Union.

Well bully for you. I hope you treat everything in life with such a knee-jerk reaction. But I forgot, this is the Telegraph, you're probably hard-wired to say that.


  • We always sat on boosters seats as well; when we were a bit taller, we had "Safefits" - did you have those? They were devices which fitted onto the seatbelt to adjust the angle of the strap for a slightly smaller person. I sometimes find myself wishing I had one in some cars even now - the strap sometimes comes more across my throat than my shoulder! As for anybody else picking up children, it was never a problem for us. Stupid article.

    By Anonymous serena, at 7:21 pm  

  • Greets to the webmaster of this wonderful site! Keep up the good work. Thanks.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:10 am  

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