Legal regulations in Germany prescribe that all children smaller than 150 cm must be restrained by a child car seat appropriate to their weight (for the bigger children normally booster seats), to make sure that the safety belt of the car is correctly routed over the child’s body, as it would be in the case of an adult. Seat belts are engineered for adults, and thus too big for small children. It is very important that booster seats have pronounced strap anchors to prevent a slipping out of the lap belt which could cause severe abdominal injuries. Booster seats with integrated back and head rest are very recommendable, and much safer, even for the bigger children providing a better routing of the shoulder strap, head support, and head protection. When the child has reached a size of more than 150 cm and is big enough to properly use a seat belt, there is no need for a child restraint system any longer, even if the child is younger than 12 years.
There is no exemption to the general protection obligation if the child is transported by grandparents or neighbours occasionally, e.g. to the school or to the kindergarden from time to time. The legislative body considers it reasonable that appropriate child restraint systems can be provided by simple organizational measures. This also applies to car pooling arrangements, e.g. parents taking turns in transporting children to the kindergarden, or taking the young players of a football team to an away-game, etc.
The person driving the car is responsible for the proper occupation of the car, and has to take care that an appropriate and approved child restrained system is used. In Germany, if a child is secured not according to regulations, e.g. only by the safety belt, without using a child car seat, the person responsible is punished by a fine of 30 €.
Child restraint requirements differ for the various states in the United States, for example. In some states, children who are four years or older can use an adult seat belt without a child car seat and in some states a booster seat is required up to age nine. The Department of Transportation advises to use a child restraint system or a booster seat for all children who are shorter than 145 cm, regardless of age and weight, or even longer if the belts hit the child at the wrong place.
By way of exception, if it is not possible to install a third child restraint system on the back seat of the car, a child older than 3 years can be secured without car seat by seat belt only. However, this is only permitted sitting in the back seat.
All child car seats require an official approval by the authorities. Many criteria being part of the current ECE Standard have to be met in order to obtain the approval for the child car seat. In case the seat has passed the tests, it will get an approval number being composed of a combination of letters and numbers for European manufacturers which is shown on the orange approval label (ECE label) usually placed underneath the base of the car seat.
Meeting the highest technical safety standards are child restraint systems having been approved to the ECE Standard R 44/04. This is the most recent test standard having been valid since July 2005. The requirements are stipulated in the directive 2003/20/EC of the European Parliament and Council. As from April 2008, all child car seats that were manufactured before 1995 and approved to the ECE Standard Regulations 44/01 and 44/02 are no longer legal and must not be used in Europe. They no longer meet the current safety standards. Only car seats having been tested and approved to the Safety Standards ECE R 44/04 and 44/03 can be used. Since July 1st, 2009, the retailers are supposed to sell only car seats with the ECE Safety Standard R 44/04. A prohibition of sale of products approved to the ECE R 44/03 standard, however, was not issued in Germany.
ECE approval Label
All child car seats must display an ECE label visibly, preferably the latest ECE R 44/04 certification label, to indicate they comply with the minimum European safety standard requirements.
All CYBEX child car seats comply with and exceed the highest safety standards. They are tested and approved to the current Child Safety Standard ECE R 44/04, shown on all ECE labels of the car seat collection.
What the ECE-Label tells about the Product
- Shows the safety standard of the car seat.
Shows for which category the child car seat has been approved
The child car seat has been approved for all passenger cars which are equipped with a safety belt according to ECE 16 standard or equivalent standard (e.g. Pallas, Pallas 2, Solution X2)
The child car seat has been approved for particular passenger cars only (vehicle-specific approval, e.g. Sirona)
Both categories on the label:
If the child car seat is installed by means of the ISOFIX Connect System and secured by the seat belt (e.g. Juno-fix, Pallas 2-fix, Solution X2-fix), it is approved for particular passenger cars only (compatibility check). These car seats, however, can also be installed on all vehicle seats being equipped with a seat belt without using the ISOFIX Connect System.
- Body weight, for which the car seat is approved = ECE Group (in this case Group I)
- European Approval Indicator = Indication for country in which the approval was obtained (1 = Germany, 2 = France, 3 = Italy, 9 = Spain, 11 = United Kingdom, 43 = Japan, e.g.)
- Approval Number = The first two numbers show to which ECE R 44 version the child car seat has been approved (as is the case for all CYBEX child seats ECE R 44/04)
For additional information please visit our CYBEX Child Safety Center: http://cybex-online.com/uk/carseats/childsafety0/shoppingguide.html
Friday next week, we will pick another interesting topic all about child safety. Please stay tuned and visit us again.