Nursery Today magazine

New European child restraint system regulation will save lives

The European nursery industry has announced collaboration with international car manufacturers in a concerted effort to save the lives of thousands of children throughout Europe

Leading experts in automotive and car seat manufacturing explained the new i-Size Regulation, the first phase of which launched in July 2013, at a conference organised by the European Nursery Confederation (ENPC) in Cologne, Germany in September.

This initiative addresses three factors which currently contribute to infant deaths in car accidents: the mandatory age for rear facing car seats: integral ISOfix systems; and improved side impact regulations.

Heiko Johannsen of Technische Universitat, Berlin explained how the risk of serious injury to the head and neck is highest between the age of one and three years when a child’s head is significantly larger in proportion to its body.

Yet, currently in most European countries a child is changed from rear facing car seats to forward facing car seats at around nine months, during this crucial period. The exception to the rule is in Scandinavian countries where children are generally moved to forward facing car seats at the age of three. The consequence of this was highlighted in a study which showed that in the period 2006 to 2011, the number of killed paediatric car occupants rose dramatically at the age of one in Germany, whilst in Sweden there were no fatalities in this age group.

The new i-Size regulation calls for the mandatory age for moving children from rear facing to forward facing car seats be a minimum of 15 months.

In addition, it was noted that children in lateral side impact accidents require greater head protection. A disturbing accident reconstruction with a crash test dummy demonstrated how greater energy absorption is required in the head area and greater protection is required to maintain the head in the shell of the car seat.

However, probably one of the most significant risks is from the incorrect or non-use of child restraint systems and it is believed that two thirds of children in Europe are not properly restrained when travelling in vehicles. This is for a number of reasons including the wrong buckle used; the car seat belt too short, twisted or not tightened; the wrong fixation, position or the belt clamping function not used which are not addressed under the current R44 regulation. It is predicted that a resolution to all of these problems will be met under the i-Size regulation which calls for mandatory ISOfix child restraint systems to be phased in over the next three years and finalised by 2016.

Ronald Vroman of ANEC, the European consumer voice in standardisation, stated that car manufacturers and child restraint system manufacturers have a shared responsibility for the safe transportation of children. He recognised the challenges faced bridging the transitional period for both cars and child restraint systems and the importance of raising consumer awareness on the new regulation to avoid confusion.

The Baby Products Association will be hosting a conference with a panel of experts explaining the full implications of the new i-Size regulation on Wednesday 20th November 2013 in London. Visit the BPA website at www.thebpa.eu for more information.


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