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Gearing up for the season: Hockey gear and car seats.

Melissa Brabant, Ministry of Transportation of Ontario October 22, 2020
Rear view of a young boy playing ice hockey.

The long-awaited hockey season is just around the corner. With last year’s season cut short, coaches, kids and parents are looking forward to returning to the rink. 

Hockey parents can all agree, rushing to the rink on time, navigating the chaos of the change room and getting their player suited up, is hectic on a good day. With social distancing regulations in place, it’s tempting to suit up your player before arriving at the rink. While hockey gear is designed to keep kids safe on the ice, it can potentially put them at risk in the vehicle. Shoulder and chest pads, padded pants and other hockey gear will impact the harness or seat belt fit, significantly reducing its effectiveness. 

Did you know motor vehicle collisions are one of the leading causes of death in children?1 In Ontario, children must use a car seat or booster seat until 145 cm (4’9”) tall OR 36 kg (80 lbs) OR 8 years old. Proper use of seat belts and car seats can help reduce the chances of injury.

The lap belt should cross low over the hips – not the stomach or thighs. Harness straps should be at or slightly above the shoulder for forward-facing car seats. Bulky clothing, including winter coats and sporting gear, should not be worn underneath the harness or seat belt.

In a collision, harnesses and seat belts can only tighten to the hockey equipment or fluffy jacket, leaving extra space under the harness/seat belt.

Comparison image: Left image showing a young boy wearing hockey gear in a car seat with an X, indicating improper dressing can affect seat belt fit. Right image showing proper way of dressing, child wearing base layers in car seat with a check mark on the right corner.

Above left image: Wearing padding in a vehicle will significantly affect seat belt fit. The shoulder strap is incorrectly sitting too low on the child's arm and the belt is fitted to hockey gear rather than the child's body. Above right image: Wearing base layers and waiting to put upper body gear on at the rink, will insure a properly fitting seat belt.

Failing to ensure proper fit, may result in the child being ejected in the case of a collision. Under Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act, failing to ensure that children are properly secured will result in significant penalties. 

Although you are likely facing new protocols such as limits on the number of players allowed in a change room, remember that safety trumps convenience.

Allow for more time to gear up at the rink. Dress your player in base layers for the commute to the rink and ensure they are properly secured in the appropriate car seat for their age, weight and height.

As their #1 fan, keep them safe both on and off the ice. Go Team!

To learn more about car seat safety visit Ontario.ca/Carseats.


Statistics Canada