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Consequences of the incorrect use of a child restraint system

The consequences of not using child restraint systems correctly (II)


What happens if you use an old or unofficial child seat? And what if you use the right CRS but don't secure the belt tightly enough? In order to examine how child seats perform in these situations, tests have been conducted with several different CRS in different conditions. The results appear in the dossier entitled "Children's Road Safety in Cars in Spain and Latin America: Child Seats, 2016" by Fundación MAPFRE.

Three different child seat groups were studied: Group 0+, in which the child travels facing the opposite direction to travel; Group I, in which the child faces the front and is secured by a harness; and Group II/III, in which the child travels facing the front, secured by the vehicle's seat belt.

In the case of child seats without official certification in Group 0+ and Group I , the results were as follows: the limits for head movement and chest acceleration established by standard R44.04 were exceeded. In addition, there was damage to the harnesses and structure of the seats, making these CRS completely unsafe.

In the case of using a CRS without tightening the seat belt securing it or the safety harness sufficiently: the results exceeded the legally-established limit for head movements horizontally as well as the vertical acceleration of the chest sensor.

In the case of "No use of CRS": in the simulation of a situation in which a baby was traveling on an adult's lap, the child would be thrown forwards and severely crushed by the adult.

This can be seen in the following images:

Before the test:

Consecuencias de usar los sistemas de retención infantil incorrectamente

After the test:

Consecuencias de usar los sistemas de retención infantil incorrectamente

In the case of an older child sat in a seat without a CRS, the correct values for head movement and chest acceleration were recorded, but it was observed that the belt pressed on the child's neck area which could cause serious injury. It was also noted that the test dummy slid forwards, making the belt press down on the abdomen which could cause a "submarine" effect.

The tests also demonstrated that when a CRS is used properly but is old, it does not protect the child in the same way. The chance of it breaking due to the deceleration experienced in a collision is higher.

When doing the test with an old Group I CRS, although acceleration levels on the head and chest outside the regulatory limits were observed, there was no breakage or unusual movement of the seat, as recorded in the dossier.

In this respect, it should be noted that these non-regulatory values can lead to a change in the properties of the CRS due to aging, such as the loss of rigidity of the material.

In the section on "Children's Road Safety" you will find all the recommendations necessary for traveling with children in the safest possible way. We also recommend you read our guide "Infant and child safety in cars: car seats" (spanish), produced in collaboration with the Spanish Federation of Midwives' Associations.

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