This is why at the Fundación MAPFRE we count the latest studies made as a basis for this topic, what are the dangers to badly seated children.
Amongst others, this Australian study assures us that a child’s position at the moment of impact is more important than that of adults. According to the study, the effect of submarining, when a child is lying down or slouched (when they have slipped down their seat) can have devastating consequences causing the child to be strangled by the seatbelt.
There are different methods for these studies. One of the most popular tests is using dummies with similar characteristics to children of different ages. This study determined that any child under 10 not using a booster seat could be injured or strangled by the seatbelt. It is therefore important that a child always travels with a booster seat.
Another technique used to arrive at this conclusion is simple observation. Swedish investigators proved that by simply observing actual situations on our roads, how children’s body’s react when braking hard or in a tight turn, etc. They concluded that often, children are not properly seated for example, leaning too far forward.
Another fact highlighted was regarding the restraining of children travelling in booster seats and using a seatbelt. In sharp turns the children can slide off to the sides, resulting in the seatbelt not being correctly adjusted. If the child is not correctly restrained any movement in an accident can be very dangerous. The same can happen when while a child is asleep and ends up unconsciously slipping out of the seatbelt.
How children should travel in a child car seat:
A recommended element of car seats is the ISOFIX SYSTEM. More than simplifying the installation in a vehicle this system prevents secondary impact in a lateral accident, those where the seat isn’t properly fixed to the seat of the vehicle, causing movement and the child smashing into the opposite side of the vehicle to the impact.
Other studies have been carried out by computer, pointing out the danger of an airbag to children that are not properly restrained in their child seats. Although a safety feature, faced with the physical weakness of children, it can cause serious damage to them if they are not properly restrained in their seats. It is important to remember to disconnect it, if travelling with a child seat facing backwards on the front passenger seat. (Front airbags and child seats facing backwards are totally incompatible). If the child seat is facing forward, according to the same simulation study, the risk of injury decreases with the increase in distance between the airbag and the head (for this reason, if travelling with a child seat forward facing, move the car seat as far back as possible). On the other hand in a lateral impact no serious risks to the child were noted unless the child was lying down across the back seats with the head against the interior of the car door, right next to the lateral airbag. If children travel properly seated in their child or booster seats, the airbags present no danger to their safety. So we must ensure that children are always properly seated and that you choose a seat with a back and headrest and lateral wings.
At the MAPFRE FOUNDATION we hope you take these recommendations into account when travelling with a child in the car. If you are looking for the i