In order to ensure a child's safety in a car, not just any child restraint system (CRS) is valid. As applicable regulation sets out, the CRS must have the following characteristics: it must be approved and it must be adapted to the child's size and weight. What happens if we do not use an approved child car seat? The consequences could be devastating, ranging from causing serious injury and even to the death of the child.
Did you know that it is still possible to purchase unapproved child car seats? As reported by Fundación MAPFRE during the preparation of their 2016 Report on Child Road Safety in Spain and Latin America.. In fact, unapproved CRS can be bought in some department stores.
WHAT PURPOSE DOES CERTIFICATION SERVE?
In order for a child restraint system to go on sale the manufacturer must demonstrate that the child car seat can pass a series of tests in order to guarantee minimum safety levels.
Manufacturers in Europe must take their child car seat to a laboratory where certified tests are carried out on it. All such tests have been agreed upon.
There are currently two applicable standards for approving child car seats: the R44/04 and the the R129 (here we answer all your questions about the forthcoming changes in official certification). Both have been drafted by the Economic Commission for Europe of the United Nations, established in 1947 by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and is one of the five regional commissions of the United Nations.
On the one hand, we have R44/04. Child car seats should be able to withstand a frontal collision at 50 km/h, a rear impact test at 30 km/h, tests of the closing buckle of the harness, an analysis of the seat design, a study of the belt or harness...
On the other we have the R129 an improvement on the former law. A side impact test is included and an i-size seat is guaranteed to be able to be fitted in any seat of the vehicle which is also 'i-size'.
The use of rear-facing child car seats is encouraged for a longer period of time, with a minimum of 15 months, in order to guarantee better head and neck safety. Moreover, with isofix anchorages there is less risk of setting it up incorrectly. Here we will respond to all your concerns.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF HAVING AN UNAPPROVED CHILD CAR SEAT
Using a child car seat that does not comply with the regulations can have serious consequences or even lead to fatalities, as mentioned in the dossier.
The test was carried out with CRS not approved in Group 0+ and Group I. The results were particularly bad, exceeding the limits established by R both in head displacement and in chest acceleration. In addition, there was damage to the harnesses and structure of the seats, making these CRS completely unsafe.
P3/4 and P3 dummies were used respectively. The collisions simulate crashing into another vehicle at a speed of 48 km/h.
In the video of the test we can see how the dummy is hanging from its neck.
The fastening piece of part of the restraint system's structure breaks. Furthermore, while horizontal displacement of the dummy, according to the R44/04 standard, should be no more than 550mm and vertical displacement no more than 800mm, the results show that with an unapproved child car seat horizontal displacement is between 659 and 799mm and vertical displacement is 750mm.
With respect to the chest, standard R44/04 limits the resultant chest acceleration to a value of less than 55g, although this value can be exceeded if it lasts less than 3ms. During the test the value obtained was 80.72g exceeding the value established by the standard by more than 20g.
With regard to acceleration in the vertical component of the chest, the standard limits the component of vertical acceleration for the chest to a value of less than 30g, which can be exceeded if it lasts less than 3ms. The test carried out with an uncertified CRS exhibited a peak of 40.97g and another of 34.8g which exceeded the standard.
Moreover, the Euro NCAP protocol is taken into account in order to evaluate the acceleration of the head. If it is higher than 80g, it is understood that that there has been head contact. If maximum acceleration is higher than 88g for more than 3ms, the CRS is considered to have obtained an invalid result. In the test there is a maximum peak of 185.35g which indicates that contact was made with the dummy's head.
ALWAYS USE APPROVED CHILD CAR SEATS
For all these reasons, when purchasing a new child restraint system we should check that they have been correctly approved in accordance with the two standards in force. This can be done by checking the label: R-44/04 / R-129. In the event of a possible imitation label, it is advisable to check the model with the manufacturer and, of course, visit a specialized retailer where you will be properly assisted and where they will be able to clear up any doubts you may have.