When all kids need to be strapped into car seats until they’re either 135cm tall or 12 years old, costs can go through the roof. Is it too much to ask manufacturers to make these life-saving seats more affordable?
A few months ago, on a potholed dirt track near Hanoi, a wonky-wheeled moped spluttered its way past me. Sitting there on the rust-red handlebars, with a whole family of rice farmers holding her in place, was a tiny little girl.
She looked happy enough, but without even a crash helmet for protection, she didn’t seem all that safe.
And that got me thinking: wouldn’t her parents prefer it if they could get her around more safely? The answer’s obvious. But there’s a problem, and that problem’s money.
High price tag on child car seats
Even here in the UK, where the most testing part of a journey is paying a service station £2 for a sausage roll, people are being priced out of keeping their kids safe on the roads.
Take child car seats as an example. They’re ridiculously expensive. Buying one of them costs enough, but when you add in second or third kids (plus the propensity for little people to grow out of them), the bill is driven higher. So what do parents do? They buy cheap. And that’s when it could get dangerous.
Costs can limits your options
Three out of the five cheapest car seats we tested (all under £80) were named Don’t Buys, which means they almost certainly won’t offer your child adequate protection in a car crash.
And of the car seats we actively recommended, the vast majority cost between £120 and £290. That’s not to say paying more guarantees you a safer car seat (it doesn’t; one of our Don’t Buys is £250), but it shows how, just like the rice farmers, your options are being limited by cash.
Manufacturers should do more
Now I know you get what you pay for, but I think everyone’s kids should be allowed to travel in the safest way possible, whether in Hanoi or Harrogate.
The only way we can make this happen is by testing products rigorously and lobbying manufacturers to make car seats that are both safe and affordable.
In a country where we’re fortunate enough to be free from those wonky-wheeled mopeds, we have to lead by example on road safety. Manufacturers should be doing more to make safe child car seats affordable for all.