“We´re only going to the beach. We don´t need to use the car seat" or "We´ll only be 5 minutes. He/she can sit on my lap". These are two examples of very dangerous phrases. No matter how long or short the journey, the use of a child restraint system, apart from being mandatory, is necessary for their safety.
Did you know that the use of a car seat reduces deaths in traffic accidents by 75%? Regarding injuries, the number decreases by 90%, according to data from the Traffic General Directorate. The use of belts and child restraint systems obviously does not prevent accidents from happening but it does reduce their consequences.
We are talking about such an important safety system, that it is regulated in most countries in the world. Depending on where we travel, regulations may vary but, in general, it is mandatory for all minors under 1.35 m or 1.50 m tall, depending on the country. Here you can consult the rules.
WHY ARE CAR SEATS USED?
Babies and children need a child restraint system appropriate to their height and weight, as it covers the different stages of their development. A one-year-old baby doesn't have the same protection needs as a three-year-old.
The three-point seat belt used by adults is not designed for child sizes and weights , nor for child body proportions.
The World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that the three-point abdominal and diagonal seat belt can cause abdominal injuries to children, and will not be optimally effective in preventing projection and injury.
To prevent this, child restraint systems are specifically designed to protect babies and children from injury in the event of a collision or sudden stop.
THESE ARE THE MOST FREQUENT INJURIES:
-Up to the age of 2, there are more neck injuries, generated by the size of the head and a fragile spine.
-Between the ages of 2 and 4, more head injuries occur. The vertebrae are not strong enough to withstand sudden decelerations.
-From 4 to 10 years, the injuries occur more to the abdomen. There is an increased risk of internal bleeding or abdominal injury.
-In the case of children between 8 and 14 years of age, the most frequent injuries in a traffic accident are in the head area. You can see all the details in this computer image.
HOW DOES A CAR SEAT PROTECT THEM?
- It avoids them being projected in the event of an accident or sudden braking.
- It avoids other objects or occupants from entering their vital space.
- It reduces injuries that occur due to a change in speed experienced by the occupant.
- It distributes the energy produced by the body during the impact, that is to say, it distributes the forces of a collision to the strongest parts of the body, thus trying to reduce the damage that a traffic accident can cause to the softest tissues.
- It maintains similar accelerations between different parts of the body.
- It keeps them away from the vehicle structure.
It should be noted that if no child restraint system is available, in the event of a traffic accident, the child would travel at the same speed as the vehicle was going before the collision, being catapulted forward against the structure of the vehicle and they may also be thrown out of the car. Getting projected outside the vehicle dramatically increases the likelihood of a very serious injury or death, as indicated by the WHO.
For the car seat to be really effective, it is important that it is approved and adapted to the height and weight of the child. Here are some tips for choosing a child restraint system.
In addition, it is important that the child seat is properly installed and that the child is properly restrained. It is also necessary to avoid certain mistakes that can be made when transporting a child in a car.