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Beth Bruce, Camille Cramm, Kim Mundle, Devon P. Williams, Andrew Conrad
Background: Despite legislation and research evidence supporting the use of childhood vehicle restraints, motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of injury, death and disability among Canadian children. Methods: Working in collaboration with trained car seat specialists and police officers, roadside checks were conducted to observe correct use of child restraints. Results: Of the 1323 child vehicle restraints inspected, 99.6% of the children were restrained, 91% were in the correct seat, and 48% of restraints were correctly installed. The seat/restraint types most used incorrectly used were booster seats (31%) and seat belts (53%). The majority of incorrectly installed or fitted seats (55%) were forward facing. Common errors in installation and fit included the seat not being secured tightly enough to the vehicle, incorrect tether strap use, the harness not being tight enough, and/or the chest clip being in the wrong place. Conclusions: The greatest proportion of incorrect seat use was among those children who transitioned to a seat belt too soon. The greatest proportion of installation and fit errors were among forward facing seats. Researchers recommend: 1) targeting parents with older children (ages 3 and above) regarding transitioning too soon from forward facing seats to booster seats, and from booster seats to seat belts; 2) targeting parents with younger children regarding correct installation of rear facing and forward facing seats; 3) collaborating with police officers to review the most common errors and encourage observation at roadside checks; and 4) creating community awareness by way of roadside checks.