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What is PESRI, the child restraint system assessment program for Latin America and the Caribbean?

¿Qué es PESRI, el programa de evaluación de sistemas de retención infantil para América Latina y el Caribe?

30/01/2020

Which car seat is the safest in Latin America and the Caribbean? Do Child restraint systems sold in the region comply with minimum safety standards? PESRI seeks to analyze the safety of child restraint systems (CRS) sold in Latin America and the Caribbean. Their goal is for consumers to have all the necessary information when it comes to choosing a child car seat.

It is about raising awareness in order to provide useful information to families who are going to be purchasing a CRS and to generate important data for the Latin NCAP tests. 

PESRI includes members such as ADAC and Proteste! (Brazil), Fundación Gonzalo Rodríguez (Uruguay), ODECU (Chile), the Power of the Consumer (Poder del Consumidor) in Mexico and FIA Region 4. Their sponsors are Fundación FIA, Global NCAP and ICRT (International Consumer Research & Testing).

All the child car seats that undergo crash tests have to pass frontal and lateral impact tests. They also assess how user-friendly they are.  

In terms of a frontal impact, deceleration force is used, in imitation of the tests carried out by Latin NCAP on a Volkswagen Golf structure. The side impact is carried out on this same structure by exerting force against a fixed car door at a 10 degree angle in the direction of the impact. This organization awards stars on the basis of the results obtained, with zero stars being the minimum and 5 the maximum number of stars achievable. They also measure the performance level of each of the frontal and side impact tests with a percentage. By contrast, the user-friendliness of the child car seat is categorized as either  ‘very poor’, ‘poor’, ‘average’, ‘good’ and ‘very good’.

It is important to point out that all the child car seats analyzed should comply with some of the current approval standards in force: UN-R44. UN-R129 (both are European), NBR 14400 ((from the ABNT - Brazilian Technical Standards Association, based on the European ECE 44 R04 standard), or FMVSS123 (United States).

Eleven child restraint systems from Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Uruguay were analyzed in 2019 (check out the results here) . However, many of these models are also available in other countries in the region.

MAIN CONCLUSIONS AND SUGGESTED IMPROVEMENTS:

-The tests demonstrate that multi-group child car seats, those that include children of various ages and heights, do not provide good performance results. 

-The majority of seats in the Latin American market are installed and secured in the vehicle with a seat belt. This means that we are more likely to make a mistake when installing the seat. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for the correct installation of the seat.

-The majority of vehicles on the region's roads do not have ISOFIX anchorages. Fortunately, this system is more widespread in newer vehicles.

-A large number of the CRS evaluated do not provide enough protection or offer no protection at all in a lateral impact. According to the PESRI's tests, the sides of the child car seats are not big enough and/or the filler material is inadequate. 

-In this respect, the organization highlights that incorrectly positioning the seat, improperly securing the child in the seat with loose harnesses or not fastening the seat belt properly can have serious consequences for children, regardless of the seat's rating. 

-They also recommend using rear-facing seats  for as long as possible and using booster seats with backrests, given that the majority of vehicles on the Latin American market lack adequate protection against side impacts.

-In terms of the legislation, they advise introducing the European UN R129 approval standard along with the R44 standard and to speed up the process of introducing ISOFIX anchorage systems. 

-Child car seats from Latin American and Caribbean countries are usually approved by the FMVSS and/or R44. Some countries have national approval standards, such as Brazil with its NBR 144000. This are often based on the technical content of earlier or outdated versions of the UN-R44 standard.

-The organization has found that a substantial number of child car seats in the region are approved under the R44 standard. However, the R44 standard does not permit the use of “belt clips” that do not form part of the CRS structure and these are regularly seen in child car seats in the region. Several CRS do not comply with these requirements, which points to poor market monitoring and approvals being granted too liberally, as indicated at PESRI.

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