Practically all child car seats recently tested by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) in Longford were found to be in need of refitting, while some were faulty and dangerous.
Of the 55 child car seats tested by the RSAâ€™s expert service - Check it Fits - which was based at both the Edgeworthstown and Longford town SuperValu stores recently, a staggering 54 were incorrectly fitted.
The findings, while shocking, are not unlike those recorded in other counties.
â€œStatistics from around the country are similar and we find that four out of five car seats need some form of adjustment,â€ an RSA spokesperson told the Leader, adding, â€œWhile 54 out of 55 incorrectly fitted seats was particularly high for one event, we often encounter similar levels of refitting and adjustments in other counties.â€
The RSA also says that its members have encountered numerous problems with child seats in cars when they conduct inspections.
Research into child car passenger fatalities from 1997 to 2009 reveals that 30% of child fatalities were found not to have been using a child restraint or safety belt.
â€œWe encountered a range of problems in Longford; most commonly we noticed a lot of seats had what we call a â€˜routing errorâ€™ where there is a problem with how the seatbelt is affixed to the car seat,â€ the spokesperson continued.
â€œSeats where the harness or the seatbelt was too loose; some seats were incompatible to the car they were used in; and a total of six seats were condemned â€“ meaning an important safety feature of the seat was broken, damaged or that the seat had been involved in a collision.
â€œCondemned seats are particularly worrying as the seat would not perform its function and in fact could cause injury or even a fatality in the event of a collision.
In response to the need to assist parents with child safety, the RSA rolled out the â€˜Check it Fitsâ€™ roadshow more often - from three events per year to three days a week, nationwide.
Parents from all over the country can now access Check it Fits in a town near them at least twice a year.
If a child is not restrained securely in a car, the consequences can be detrimental, the RSA confirmed.
â€œGoing at a 50kmh (30 mph), an unrestrained child would be thrown forward with a force 30 to 60 times their body weight.
â€œThey would be thrown about inside the vehicle, injuring themselves and quite possibly seriously injuring or even killing other people inside the vehicle.
â€œThey are also likely to be ejected from the car through one of the windows. The safest way for children to travel in cars is in a child seat that is suitable for their weight and height.â€