When it comes to road safety there are several clear risks, both for the driver or for the passengers of the vehicle, with one of the most unpredictable being that of human error. In terms of restraint systems, and specifically child restraint systems, the vast majority of accidents occur because of human error when securing the child car seat or when adjusting the seat belts.
To try to combat this, new approvals were introduced such as i-Size, in addition to ISOFIX. ISOFIX came into being as a simple anchorage standard seeking to avoid common errors being made when securing the child seat to the car seat, while i-Size improves and includes more features aimed at helping parents correctly use the CRS. The approvals that are based on the seat belt anchoring the child seat have the downside of potentially being wrongly installed. These child seats are just as safe as the ISOFIX or i-Size ones, but the potential for error when installing the seat is one of their most well-known disadvantages .
If we travel with an incorrectly installed child seat we are putting the child as well as the other passengers at risk, given that the CRS is designed to be correctly secured with the seat belts or with the ISOFIX anchorage. If this is not done correctly it is very likely that the seat will not protect the child as it should. If the child car seat comes loose in a crash it could hit one of the vehicle's passengers or the driver. The child could also hit another part of the inside of the car or the windows.
The Fundación MAPFRE dossier on the use of child restraint systems in Spain and Latin America, published October 2016, outlines the most common mistakes when placing and adjusting the CRS such as the incorrect installation of the restraint system in the vehicle and the incorrect positioning of the child in the CRS, as well as the erroneous placement of the restraint harness. The most dangerous errors to be aware of and to avoid are (according to the CHILD project):
- Loose harness / seat belt.
- Seat belt not buckled correctly for whatever reason.
- Folds in the seat belt or harness.
- Badly threaded seat belts, meaning that the seat belts do not follow the belt path indicated in the CRS instruction manual.
- When part of the seat belt goes behind the child's back instead of over their shoulders.
- Seat belt underneath arms.
- Seat belt too high up.
- Incorrect installation and orientation.
- When the CRS is not appropriate for the child's weight and height.
The consequences of incorrect installation can be extremely severe for parts of the body such as the head and face, neck and cervical spine, chest, abdomen and limbs. Therefore we recommend taking every precaution and not hurrying when putting children in the car and securing them in the child car seat.