Survey hints at apathy over child car seats

The percentage of children who are properly secured in child safety seats in vehicles has fallen 4.3 percentage points from a year earlier to 47.4 percent, according to a recent survey.

The survey was conducted by the National Police Agency and the Japan Automobile Federation, which have been conducting joint surveys since 2002.

Child safety seats, used primarily for children aged 1 to 4, became compulsory in Japan in April 2000 for children under the age of 6.

According to the survey results, however, only 28 percent of 5-year-old children are properly secured in child safety seats, while 6.1 percent are not placed in them at all, even in vehicles that are equipped with the special seats.

“We plan to promote the use of child safety seats through campaigns at kindergartens and nurseries to warn people of the danger of not using safety seats,” an NPA official said.

In 11.5 percent of the cases, adults were holding children on their laps, while in 8.5 percent of cases, children were wearing adult seat belts.

The fatality rate in traffic accidents in 2003 for children who were not secured in child safety seats was 3.9 times higher than that for children who were properly secured in them, the survey said.