OTTAWA — One-third of Canadian children are strapped into car seats incorrectly, results from a new survey show.
According to the 2010 Survey on Child Restraint Use released by Transport Canada on Wednesday, 95.8 per cent of child passengers travel in car seats, but the car seats are used correctly just 64 per cent of the time.
"It's all very well to use a car seat but if you're not using it correctly it won't protect the child as it should," said Kristen Gane, a spokeswoman for Safe Kids Canada.
The problem is that parents sometimes do not know how to choose the correct car seat for their child or how to install it properly, Gane said.
The survey found that parents in the Yukon have the highest level of correct usage of car seats (more than 90 per cent). In contrast, Saskatchewan had the lowest level at 53 per cent. Yukon also performed best when it came to the use of child restraints overall. Almost 100 per cent of children were using either car seats or seat belts in a vehicle.
"We're making progress," said Anne Snowdon, a health researcher at the University of Windsor, who led the survey. More than 7,000 cars and 9,700 child passengers were surveyed at 174 traffic intersections across Canada (excluding Nunavut). Snowdon and her team found the vast majority of infants and toddlers were in car seats, and 92 per cent of children aged nine to 14 used seat belts. The big problem was found in booster seat use among kids aged four to eight.
Less than half of children in this age group were sitting in booster seats, they found. The government has set a target of 95 per cent.
"It doesn't look like it does very much so parents might assume it's optional," Gane said about booster seats, but they ensure seat belts sit at the right height on a child's body, protecting them from seatbelt-related injuries in a crash.
Both Snowdon and Gane said promoting booster seats should become a priority. Some provinces do not enforce the use of booster seats.
On the bright side, the survey found premature transitions from one type of car seat to the next has declined compared to the 2006 survey.
Parents should not be too eager to "graduate" their children to the next level of seat, Gane said, since each subsequent type of seat offers less protection to a child.
Car accidents kill more children in Canada than any other injury. Safe Kids Canada reports that an average of 60 children are killed in accidents each year.© Copyright (c) Postmedia News