(9 – 18 kg, approx. 9 months to 4 years)
Parents should keep their children in rear-facing car seats as long as possible, beyond the age of one – at least until the age of 18 months. These car seats have the ability to evenly distribute the forces of a frontal impact over a larger area, therefore reducing the strain on the developing neck, shoulders and head as well as the inner organs. Once the child approaches the weight limit (13 kg) it is time to say goodbye to the Group 0+ infant carrier and move on to a Group I car seat.
There are basically three different systems available of Group I (9-18 kg, approx. 9 months to 4 years) forward-facing seats differing in the kind of fastening and securing the child.
SECURING THE CHILD WITH A SAFETY BELT
5-point harness systems
These harness systems require fixing the car seat and securing the child in separate fastening procedures. The car seat is fastened either by using the 3-point belt of the car or with ISOFIX and the child is secured by using the integrated harness system of the car seat.
3-point harness systems
In this case both the car seat and the child are secured by the 3-point belt of the car. These systems are still being sold in small numbers, however will soon disappear from the market.
The safety belt and the correct fastening procedure greatly contribute to the safety of the child. The belt or harness must rest tautly on the child’s body and the buckle must be located in the right position: i.e. at pelvic level and NOT across the tummy.
However, in Group I, the child’s head is still relatively heavy in comparison with the rest of its body and in the event of a collision, the head, neck and shoulders are exposed to particularly high stresses, not least because car safety seats fitted with 5-point harnesses, hold the shoulders firmly in position. For this reason, countries that tend to have more forward-facing seats with integrated harnesses in Group I record a considerably higher number of serious injuries than for the rear-facing Group 0+.
The safer systems in Group I include those with a safety cushion (impact shield) or rear-facing models.
SECURING THE CHILD WITH A SAFETY CUSHION (IMPACT SHIELD)
These safety systems consist of the child car seat and a integrated safety cushion (impact shield). Fastening of the car seat and securing the child is done by means of the safety cushion (impact shield) and 3-point belt of the car in only one single process. Meanwhile many safety cushion models also offer ISOFIX, the fixed interface with standardized anchoring points for securely installing the child safety seat in a vehicle, minimizing installation mistakes and optimizing the protective effect. Systems with a safety cushion (impact shield) follow a similar principle to an inflated airbag. In comparison with a regular 5-point harness system, the cushion significantly reduces the impact energy arising in a frontal collision. The energy from the collision is distributed across the large area of the cushion and broken down by its energy-absorbing materials. The belt does not cut into the child and the vulnerable neck and shoulder area is protected.
THE SAFEST PLACE IN THE CAR
The safest place in the car for children is the rear seat, preferably in the middle. In this position, the child is as far away from the sides as possible and thus receives optimum protection in the event of an accident. Important: Please ensure that the safety belt fits the car safety seat properly. Pelvic belts alone are not sufficient. In this instance, it is safer to use one of the side rear seats with a retractable 3-point belt. Since most cars are not designed with a fully formed central seat and it is relatively difficult to fasten and release the child in this position, the most practical and safest place for the child restraint system is behind the passenger seat.
For more information please head to the CYBEX Safety Centre
To be continued…. Stay tuned!