Especially in the car, it is easy to see how quickly our children grow. When children cross the weight limit for Group I safety seats (18kg) or their heads appear over the top edge, it is time to switch to a Group 2/3 seat (15-36 kg, approx. 3-12 years of age). Being that children using this system are fastened using the car’s three-point safety belt, the switch should not be made unless the child can sit properly. This is to ensure that they do not slip to the side from underneath the belt. Generally, this is the case when children are four years of age and older.
The three-point safety belt was originally developed for adults and is much too large for children. A car safety seat elevates a child by about 10cm, allowing the belt to fit slightly better. Simple booster seats without belt positioners or backrests do not, however, offer children sufficient protection.
The seats have to be designed with a backrest, side protectors and belt positioners. The belt positioners fitted at the sides of the safety seat ensure that the belt is adapted to the child’s body; the pelvic belt cannot slide off or against the lower abdomen. The shoulder belt runs across the middle of the shoulder and has no contact with the neck or face. For as long as children like to sleep in the car it is important to ensure that their head is supported and the belt remains in the correct position even when the child has adopted a sleeping position. The height of the headrest should also be checked and adjusted on a regular basis.
Reputed independent testing institutes and consumer organisations such as the German Stiftung Warentest and the German automobile club ADAC, recommend that older children always use a car safety seat with a backrest and thus also a belt positioner and side-impact protection. Without these important safety precautions, the child’s head would be thrown violently against the hard car door in the event of a side-impact collision.
Thanks to its many innovative safety features the child seat Solution X2-fix received top results at the European child safety test in Group 2/3 (6/2011). Due to an optimized side-impact protection it also achieved outstanding test scores in side-impact performance. Solution X2-fix was also awarded the coveted quality seal and top recommendation “Best Buy” by the British consumer organization WHICH?
THE PROTECTIVE FUNCTION OF THE PELVIC BELT POSITIONERS
The risk of injury caused by the belt is much greater in the abdominal than the neck region. High-quality car safety seats are fitted with special belt positioners (belt hooks) to hold the pelvic belt in exactly the right position. Cheap products do not offer this safety feature. In the event of a collision, there is a risk that the belt may slide into the abdominal region, which can potentially cause serious injury to the internal organs. A well designed pelvic belt positioner ensures that the booster seat does not slip out from underneath the child when the brakes are applied sharply.
THE PROTECTIVE FUNCTION OF THE BACKREST
The backrest guides the shoulder belt exactly across the middle of the shoulder. The belt positioner automatically moves with the height-adjustable headrest. The backrest also replaces any missing vehicle headrests.
It prevents the upper body from slumping when the child is asleep. This helps prevent the head from falling forwards into the side airbag deployment zone as well as the child from slipping out from underneath the seat belt.
It offers good side-impact protection for the head and torso. The side protectors stop the child from hitting the car window in the event of a side-impact collision. It should be remembered that passengers are exposed to the greatest risk of injury in side-impact collisions and children can also sustain additional injury from the side airbag. Although airbags protect adults, they can pose a risk for children. One in four car accidents involves impact to the side of the car.
High-quality systems (e.g. the CYBEX Solution series) offer a tilt-adjust headrest (patented), which helps prevent the head from dangerously flopping forwards while the child is asleep. In addition, the backrest can be adjusted perfectly to fit the incline of the car seat.
This video simulates a side-impact collision featuring a booster seat with and without a backrest. See for yourselves. The difference is quite remarkable.
To find out more about Group 2/3 car safety seats click here.
THE CHILD SAFETY TEAM AT CYBEX