Child safety advocates and followers of the Royal Family were shocked when some of the first pictures of the U.K.’s new prince emerged showing baby George, the future king, improperly fastened in his car seat on his very first car ride.
Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge introduced Prince George to the public at St. Mary’s hospital on July 23. They then put him in the back of their black Range Rover and drove off.
After press pictures of the event were published, some immediately took note of the baby’s potentially unsafe seating arrangement.
Child care and safety experts took note. According to the Huffington Post, “Childcare blog Baby Center pointed to website ChildCarSeats.co.uk, which states that the belt should be properly adjusted across the child, laying tightly against the body so only two fingers can fit between the chest and harness.”
Other websites and commenters pointed out additional mistakes, such as how the baby was situated in the car seat while swaddled in a blanket, advising that the shoulder straps should go over the baby’s shoulders and should be snug enough so that baby’s hands can’t go under them.
But William and Kate aren’t alone in their car seat confusion. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the University of Michigan Transportation Institute released the results of a study last year that found only 13 percent of children seated in seats using the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system were fastened properly. Likewise, a National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA) study found that just one out of every four car seats is used properly.
Stephanie Tombrello, the Executive Director of SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A., told a Huffington Post blogger that in more than 40 years in the auto safety and inspection field, she has “found that about 90 percent of safety seats are either incorrectly selected, fitted, or used.”
Of course, the buzz over Prince George’s car seat may seem a bit nitpicky, but the sad fact is that car accidents remain the single biggest killer of children ages 1 to 14, both in the U.S. and in the U.K., according to records from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and British government.
Three children younger than age 14 die in the U.S. every day on average as the result of traffic accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and proper use of children’s car seats can help drastically reduce these tragic numbers.