Child car seats: Part 3
What happens if a child restraint system is not used?
Firstly, regardless of the distance which is to be travelled ,using a normal 3-point restraint system for a minor is not any good. If the minor’s feet don’t touch the ground/floor or the vehicle then the belt is of no use as the child could slide out and will be severely injured in an accident. The failure to comply with the ruling on child safety is considered a major offence and a fine of 200€ can be implemented along with the loss of 3 points for the driver. Police also have the ability to impound the vehicle in which the minor was travelling.
How is the child restraint system fitted?
Child restraint systems are either fitted using the vehicles 3-point seat belt or via the ISOFIX fitting system if the car has the capabilities.
The ISOFIX fitting is made up of three fixing points. Two of the fixing points are situated between the back of the seat and the base, the base of the child restraint system is clipped onto these. The third fixing point is designed to stop the seat from rotating in an impact. There are two types:
Top Tether: This fixes the child restraint system to either the back of the main car seat or to fixing points in the boot.
üixing foot/Load leg: This fixes the child restraint system to the floor of the car via a foot/leg.
How do you know a child restraint system is homologated?
All child restraint systems must be homologated and comply with the European law ECE R44/04 + i-Size.
Child restraint systems homologated with the ECE R44/04 ruling must show a sticker that shows the manufactures name, the law and the homologation number.
Child restraint systems homologated with the i-Size must show a sticker with a picture of a restraint system and the i logo.
Do you need to replace your child restraint system after an impact?
Most child restraint systems need to be replaced if they were in a vehicle that experienced an impact/crash even if the child wasn´t in the vehicle at the time, this is due to the fact that crash forces can be extreme. The recommendations are to replace the restraint system if the accident/incident is not classified as minor, even if the restraint shows no visible damage.
MINOR CRASHES ARE THOSE THAT MEET ALL OF THE FOLLOWING CRITERIA NOT JUST ONE POINT:
The vehicle was able to be driven away from the crash site;
The vehicle door nearest the safety seat was undamaged;
There were no injuries to any of the vehicle occupants;
The air bags (if present) did not deploy;
There is no visible damage to the safety seat.
Do child restraint systems expire?
Most manufactures have a service life interval for their child restraint systems, so it would be down to each manufacturer however the normal expiry would be between 6 to 9 years. Each restraint system should come with a manufacture date printed on the label. The reason for the expiry is that the restraint systems are made from plastic which as it ages becomes brittle and weak; these are two qualities you don´t want in a restraint system that may have to withstand severe crash forces.
What are Side Air Bags (SABs) and can child restraint systems be used in cars with them?
There are three main types of SABs:
1. Head SABs; these are usually mounted in the roof rail above the side windows and are designed to help protect the head in a side impact/crash. There are in turn two types of head SABs, curtain SABs and tubular SABs. The curtain SABs act like a curtain and cover the windows which can also protect the passengers from flying glass.
2. Chest SABs; these are mounted to either the side of the back seat or in the door and are designed to help protect the chest in a serious side impact/crash.
3. Combo SABs; these are usually only mounted to the side of the front seats; they are larger than then chest SABs but are still designed to help protect the chest and the head of an adult.
SABs are safe for both adults and children however each restraint system manufacturer has a different point of view on whether the restraint systems can be fitted next to them. Most manufacturers ask you to refer to the cars owner’s manual for installation instructions however most new style seats are designed to work in conjunction with the SABs.