How safe are car seat harness clips?

We spoke to Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) to find out whether car seat chest clips are safe

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It’s so frustrating trying to get the kids strapped in without them throwing a strop or wriggling their arms out of the safety chair harness. So many of us have turned to car seat harness clips, also known as car seat chest clips to stop them doing a very good impression of a mini escape artist and getting free of the chair.

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But these seemingly ingenious accessories have come under fire recently following safety concerns they might put your child at risk in the event of an accident.

We spoke to Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) to clear up the confusion surrounding the clips. 

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Are there any safety benefits to car seat belt collectors/ harness chest clips?

Some parents like them because they make it harder for a child to slip the harness off their shoulders or undo the buckle. 

However, we do not recommend parents use car seat chest clips if they have not been designed by the child car seat manufacturer to be used with their specific seat.  That’s because they may cause unforeseen problems and put your child at risk. Always check with the child seat manufacturer.

Is there any danger in using a  car seat belt collectors/harness chest clip?  

RoSPA does not recommend adding any additional products onto child car seats, unless they have been approved by the child car seat manufacturer, as they have not been independently tested.  This makes it difficult to be sure how it will work in a crash or whether it will cause unintended consequences, such as shattering and leaving sharp edges or making it harder to take the child out of the seat in an emergency.

If you are adding an additional product onto a child seat, check with the child seat manufacturer and your motor insurer.

Does the new I-Size law require car seats to come with car seat belt collectors/ harness chest clips as standard?

No, unless they were originally designed as part of the seat by the manufacturer.

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Is it true that it’s a legal requirement for parents to be able to undo their child’s seat belt/harness with one hand in the event of an accident?

No, but in order to meet the R44 standard, or the new i-size standard, child car seat buckles must be easy to release.

What would you recommend parents do instead of use car seat belt collectors/ harness chest clips?

Make sure the child seat is securely fitted and the harness is correctly adjusted. When choosing a child car seat, choose a retailer who will check it is suitable for your child and your car, and who will show you how to fit it correctly. Follow the instructions that come with the seat.

Remember the 2 hour rule!

In a car seat, babies and children younger than 3-years-old can often end up in a bit of a scrunched up position, especially if they fall asleep in a car seat – this means their breathing may be compromised. 

So it’s recommended that babies stay in them for no longer than two hours at a time.

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