Costa Rica's Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MOPT) and the country's Road Safety Council (COSEVI) warn of the risks that children and babies might face by using devices to restrain the head in the event of a crash. You should bear in mind that to restrain is not the same as to protect and that anything you wish to add to a CRS must be duly certified.
There are many families who take it upon themselves to produce head restraint devices that `supposedly´ offer better protection or that prevent the child's head from drooping when it falls asleep.
According to findings by COSEVI, these devices are produced `without technical criteria or safety tests´. It should be remembered that for a device to be effective and authorized for sale, it must first go through exhaustive analyses and numerous tests.
In this regard, they stress that children must travel using the appropriate officially approved child restraint system. In a press release they state that `Any accessory different to the straps, buckles and fastenings that come with each product represents a danger´.
On this subject, they warn that these devices could pose a grave risk in the event of an accident and that, in addition to not offering adequate support, a brusque movement at the level of the neck could cause serious or even fatal injuries. It does not matter if the material is soft or light. What is important to avoid is the abrupt restriction of the natural forward movement of the head in the event of sharp braking or a crash.
The following is the image put out by COSEVI to raise awareness of the importance of not using these types of devices:
Child seat manufacturers themselves advise that you should not add extra devices that they have not approved and which have not been certified.
A child seat is safe so long as it has been officially approved and is correctly installed following the manufacturer's instructions. Adjusting the harness properly on the child in the CRS and anchoring it correctly are vital in order to offer protection if necessary.
Traveling with the child facing the rear for the longest time possible (even up to 4 years old) is the best way to avoid head, neck and spinal injuries.
Regulation in Costa Rica
From April 2014, the regulation establishes the type of restraint system that must be used.
Thus, a child seat must be selected according to the age, height and weight of the child. In the light of these factors, you may use:
- Carrycots: Group 0 and 0+, from birth up to 1 year old. Under 10 kg (Group 0) and under 13 kg (Group 0+), up to 75 cm.
- Seat: Group I, from 1 to 4 years old, weighing between 9 kg and 18 kg. Between 75 and 110 cm.
- Booster seat with backrest: Group II, from 4 to 6 years old, weighing between 15 and 25 kg. Between 110 and 145 cm.
- Booster cushion without backrest: Group III, from 6 to 12 years old, weighing between 22 and 36 kg, between 110 y 145 cm.
The recommended Child Restraint Systems must be certified according to an international standard (at a European or United States level) that guarantees that they have passed impact tests in a satisfactory manner.
Check the current regulation in force using this infographic on children's road safety in each country of Latin America and the Caribbean.