Because children can so quickly turn into little Houdinis the AA is urging parents to make sure that they are properly fastened in their car seats.
An AA survey of 1,375 parents found 76% admitted that one or more of their children had at some stage freed themselves from the straps.
AA Ireland director of consumer affairs, Conor Faughnan, said the buckles in most car seats were designed to be difficult for little fingers to open.
But, as a father himself, he discovered that his daughter was able to free herself from a car seat and he admitted that some children were very adept at breaking free of the restraints.
“In the light of these findings we’re asking parents to do their best to drill into their kids how important it is to stay in their restraints,” he said.
The AA is also advising parents to make sure that the straps are tight enough in the first place and that the seat itself is correctly fitted.
It recommends removing bulky clothing from children, such as coats and doing the two finger test —parents should be able to slot two fingers between the straps and their child but not able to rotate them 180 degrees.
While one in four of the parents surveyed had the horrifying experience of a child opening the door of a moving car, none reported any injury.
However, all of the parents knew that they were very lucky that their child had come to no harm.
While EU law states that all children must travel in the correct car seat, booster seat or booster cushion, the use of child locks is not compulsory.
Mr Faughnan said anyone travelling with young children should make a point of ensuring that the child safety lock is turned on.
“Busy little hands and curious minds can and have led to tragedy in the past so you can never be too careful,” he warned.
Children like imitating their parents and, given the chance, love to pretend the are driving the car. Six per cent of parents said one of their children had managed to start the car and 3% had to leap into action after a child let off the hand brake.
In other incidents the behaviour of young children has been less dangerous, but more frustrating.
Almost one in four (23%) of parents found one or more of their children had damaged the car. Toddlers are particularly guilty of rubbing pebbles over the paintwork or cramming coins into the CD player.
And 4% of parents were mortified after discovering that their child had damaged someone else’s car. A mother discovered that her four-year-old had managed to crack a neighbour’s windscreen with a toy car.
More than one in 10 (12%) found themselves scrambling for the spare keys or calling out the AA after one or more of their children have locked them outside of the car.
Mr Faughnan said scarcely a week went by without an AA patrol being called to a car where a child has locked themselves in.
“Usually the parent will be standing just beside the car chatting to someone or about to pop the groceries in the boot when they find themselves locked out,” he said.