One in seven (14%) parents admit driving children in their car without them being correctly strapped in, a new survey suggests.
Running late or making short journeys were among the reasons given for not using the correct seats or seat belts for children, according to research commissioned by Co-op Insurance.
Children must normally use a child car seat until they are 12-years-old or 1.35 metres tall.
Parents can be fined up to £500 for driving a child without having a seat belt or child seat in place.
A 45-minute police operation outside a primary school in Birmingham last week recorded 51 offences of children unsecured in vehicles.
Recent Department for Transport figures show more than a quarter (27%) of people who died in crashes on Britain’s roads last year were unrestrained.
Nick Ansley, head of motor insurance at Co-op, said: “Thousands of children are being driven round without being correctly fastened into their seats.
“If a vehicle is involved in a collision then the consequences are likely to be much more serious if a child is not strapped in.
“There is no doubt that parents are simply trying to buy some time in their already manic schedules by sometimes not belting children in properly on short journeys.
“We are urging parents to buy time at another point in the day – when the stakes aren’t as high.”
Joshua Harris, director of campaigns at road safety charity Brake, warned cuts in road policing is “breeding an environment of complacency” among drivers.
He said: “Wearing a seat belt is simply a no-brainer in safety terms.
“It’s one of the easiest and most effective ways that people can protect themselves in a vehicle.”