Some parents are putting kids in front-facing seats at just six months old, says Volvo.

More than nine in 10 UK parents are using inappropriate child seats when they drive with children, according to Volvo’s safety experts. Research by the safety-conscious Swedish car company found the vast majority of parents were using front-facing child seats when their children should still be in rear-facing seats.

According to the study, which surveyed more than 2,000 Brits, 94 percent of parents who have primarily used a front-facing car seat for their child did so when their child was four years old or less. That goes against Volvo’s advice that rear-facing car seats should be used up to the age of four – or as long as possible – to reduce the chances of injury in the event of an accident.

Volvo claims young children’s necks are not strong enough to support their necks in the event of an accident, and the organisation’s senior technical specialist in injury prevention, Dr Lotta Jakobsson, said rear-facing seats could save a child’s life in a high-speed crash.

Child seat

“Children up to four need to travel rearward-facing in cars, simply because their neck is too weak to support the head,” she said. “You therefore need to protect them. We need to communicate this message to everybody so they understand the importance of having the children rearward-facing, because if they end up in a high-severity frontal impact, it’s a question of life or death.”

However, Volvo’s research also revealed how early drivers are swapping rear-facing seats for front-facing ones. According to the survey, one in five parents (20 percent) has used a front-facing seat before their child reached six months old.

Baby sleeping in child safety seat

And the study looked at parents’ attitudes to older children who have already started driving. Almost half (47 percent) of parents claim to worry about their teenager speeding, while 52 percent said they would like to be able to control the speed of their teenager’s car. Almost a fifth (19 percent) of parents of teenagers also said they would rather get a taxi than a lift from their teenager.

As a result, the company has created a Care Key, which allows parents to pre-set a maximum speed of the car before the teen gets behind the wheel in a bid to keep them safe on the road. This feature can also be used on other occasions, such as when entrusting their car to valet parking attendants.

“Distraction, disturbance and anything linked to inattention while driving is a hazard,” said Malin Ekholm, head of the Volvo Cars safety centre. “Technology is moving forward, so we want to start addressing these hazards with a safety feature that allows parents to be able to decide what is a reasonable speed for whomever they’re lending the car to.”

Young woman driving in the rain