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Are lap-belts in cars safe?

(18 Posts)
Elf Wed 23-Feb-05 20:53:07

No idea where to post this thread by the way. All being well we shall have three children later this year and I keep thinking about travelling in cars.

I can't stop thinking that the middle seat is less safe because you only have a lap belt and then I imagine that you get some ghastly injury because your body is jerked hideously. Does anyone know if this is true?!

BTW this is more to do with when they are into booster seats and beyond I guess as I think (?) a toddler car seat is as safe with just a lap belt?

Any info/ideas anyone? Thanks.

Hulababy Wed 23-Feb-05 20:58:03

Just make sure that your seat is designed to be used by a lap belt only (as not that many are) and ensure it fits properly. Normally infant seats and booster seats cannot be used with lap only belts.

A lap belt is not quite as safe as a lap and diagonal belt, but it is still better than no belt at all.

Also, speak to your garage about having a "proper" seat belt fitted int he middle of your car.

PrettyCandles Wed 23-Feb-05 20:59:35

If a carseat is designed to be fixed with a lapbelt only, then it is perfectly safe. That's how the very good Road Safety Officer fixed our Britax Eclipse. I think Britax do a thingy (called Romero? or something like that) to be used with only a lapbelt (ie no carseat) to help distribute the force of the belt shoudl there be an accident.

choccychic Wed 23-Feb-05 21:02:50

Can't reallly answer your question I'm afraid, except to say that with three children I always seem to be the one sat in the middle in the back, breaking up arguments/pacifying crying baby, when whole family is on the road! When just me and kids i find three seats in the back a bit of a squash now they are all wide boosters, but using the front depends on your feelings about the safety of front and back and obviously on whether you have an airbag.

nicm Thu 24-Feb-05 08:35:59


not sure how safe they are. but i had this last year when childminding and bought a romer vario car seat. it sits over the child and then the lap belt goes through it. it helps distribute the force if anything happens. hth

LIZS Thu 24-Feb-05 08:56:41

this is the Britax-Roemer Europe site which shows the Vario (see Products). The Freeway can fix with just a lap belt as can some other models of toddler seat. Personally I hate just lap belts and had to travel on a coach with the kids at the weekend with them down a mountain road - scary.

Bozza Thu 24-Feb-05 09:04:32

Elf what sort of car have you got? I think most modern cars are fitted with 3 full diagonal belts at the moment. Even my Fiesta (52 plate) is, but there is no way you could fit 3 car seats in the back. DS is in a high back booster and DD is in a maxi cosi priori and they can comfortably hold hands!

think Hula is right otherwise though and you would have to put the toddler in the middle.

FairyMum Thu 24-Feb-05 09:10:36

I have three children too and my DD sits in the middle with a lap-belt. I think she is definatly less safe. Not sure what to do though as I don't really want to buy a bigger car.....

NotQuiteCockney Thu 24-Feb-05 09:17:41

I've read that the reduction in safety from using a lap belt is more than compensated for by the fact that a child in the middle will be protected by the children on either side in a side-impact crash.

Gory, but so is most of this stuff.

MancMum Thu 24-Feb-05 09:22:10

well if I had a lap belt in my car I would definitely get rid of it... it is so much less safe than the shoulder ones... guess I just remember the family on TV when I was young when family car crashed and young boy in lap belt went thru windscreen and was paralysed but his two siblings strapped in standard belts either side escaped unscathed... however, have only heard of that happening once and there must be 1000's of kids doing jorneys every day with lap belts.... so like every thing else you have to assess the actual risk...

Bozza Thu 24-Feb-05 09:24:11

But fairymum my car is a two door fiesta and has 3 shoulder belts. Think you just need to shop around for the right car.

FairyMum Thu 24-Feb-05 09:27:39

We drive fairly large Audi but we have got two car seats and it really wouldn't be space I don't think for that. I will look into it though because I have worried about it! Thanks,

Elf Tue 01-Mar-05 14:14:26

Thanks everyone for your thoughts and info. We have actually now bought a bigger car with eight seats but then when we have guests do I make them sit in the lap belt seats!! I shall look up the info about the Britax Romer thing as well.

It's great that apparently new cars now do have middle shoulder belts, that is definitely the way ahead.

Thanksk again everyone.

Cod Tue 01-Mar-05 14:16:28

Message withdrawn

Hulababy Tue 01-Mar-05 14:23:47

ROSPCA site This is the site I hot the "A lap belt is not quite as safe as a lap and diagonal belt, but it is still better than no belt at all.
" comment from. It also has other information.

It is also possible to get a diagonal/lap belt for a middle seat (if currently only has lap) as shown here . Most car manufacturers and/or garages should have more ifnromation.

Hulababy Tue 01-Mar-05 14:24:27

Oh no Cod - I guess some older ones can't be done then????

LIZS Tue 01-Mar-05 14:25:04

Think it works as a cushion through which you pass the lap belt, so it would spread the load in an impact.

"Super practical: The RÖMER VARIO is simply placed in front of the child and then secured with the car seat belt. When several children ride in the car and there is not enough room on the rear seat, the RÖMER VARIO is a good alternative to occupy the centre rear seat position because it can be used with a 2-point lap belt. And since it is a lightweight, it is perfectly suitable as a spare seat.

Child in the RÖMER VARIO, secured with 2-point belt.

Child in the RÖMER VARIO, secured with 3-point belt.

easy to handle

safety table absorbs accident forces

gives the child plenty of room to move

easy to move from one car to another

breathable cover, which feels pleasant on the skin "

Don't know if it is approved to British Safety Standards though or where in UK might sell it.

TinyGang Tue 01-Mar-05 14:25:20

I don't know if lap belts are less safe statistically, but a full sized seat with a diagonal belt certainly seems safer and was a factor in the car we chose - Citroen Xsara Picasso. (That and the boot size )

Some cars seem to have a sort of 'half' sized middle seat and I know it can be hard to fit three booster seats in the back all together when this is the case.

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