The Good Egg Car Safety Blog

Child Car Seat Standards Change

There have been many reports regarding the new stricter rules about booster cushions and this has caused much confusion.

This new amendment to the current regulation 44 is now in effect. This means that parents who currently have booster cushions can legally continue to use them as they have been.

Any new backless booster seats (booster cushion) coming to market from the 9th February 2017 will only be suitable for children above 22kg AND 125cm. Stock that was introduced before this date, will still be eligible for sale.

However, we always recommend that children travel in the high back booster if they are the correct weight and height for it, and fit comfortably within the headrest. A high back booster provides additional head, neck, torso protection and side impact protection that a booster cushion does not.



There are currently two child car seat regulations running alongside each other – R44.04, which are the weight based car seats, and R129, which is a new regulation.

R129 is making seats easier to choose, fit and use. However, R44.04 weight based approved seats will still be sold, legal and safe for some years to come. One of the key features of R44 is that child seats are chosen based on weight:

Group 0+ (infant seats) – 0 to 13kg
Group 1 (toddler seats) – 9kg to 18kg
Group 2,3 (Booster seats) – 15kg to 36kg

Part of the problem with R44, is that children tend to be moved up a stage as soon as they reach the minimum weight limit for the next stage, when it is actually safer for them to stay in each stage seat until they reach the maximum weight limit for their current stage. A step up in group stage is a step down in safety.


R44.04 currently allows boosters, even booster cushions, to be approved from 15kg – this can legally be a child as young as 2 years or less! While the weight limit is the main factor, there are also height considerations to take into account. A child can be 15kg in weight, yet still be far too small to use a booster.

Children's bones are very different from adults, and their hips and pelvis are very small and set far back. The hips and pelvis are what helps to keep a seat belt in place, and absorb energy. These bones are not really strong enough for a seat belt until a child is around 4 years of age. There are 25kg harness limit seats for children who reach the 18kg harness weight limit at a young age.

Children under 125cm in height and 22kg weight will not be allowed to use a newly type approved (R44.04 supplement 11) booster cushion, but can still use booster cushions that were approved prior to the implementation date.  Otherwise, they will have to use a high back booster.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us directly at enquiries@goodeggsafety.com

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When should I turn my baby forward facing?

When should I turn my baby forward facing?

 

It can be very confusing to know when you should move your baby forward facing, but this blog will help you know what the safest course of action is!

Child car seat groups can seem complicated at first as they go by weight and height, yet there is a crossover between each stage on the weight limit, and then there are age recommendations to top it off!  What do you do with a baby who is the 9 months forward facing age but only 18 lbs?  Do you have to turn forward?  Is the rear facing seat not safe to use after 9 months then?

The best thing to do when researching car seats is to ignore age recommendations and choose a seat solely on your child’s weight and height.  This helps to remove some of the ‘smoke’ and it makes the seat stages a little easier to understand.  The seat stages have a crossover on the weight categories, and this is due to the chance that a child can outgrow a seat by height before they hit the maximum weight and so they will have to move up a stage.

This chart shows the categories:

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*For maximum safety time you should keep your child in their rear facing car seat until it is fully outgrown

**Some seats may specify a different height limit - check instructions and follow carefully

If they are in a group 0+ infant seat this is at either 13kg, or when the top of their head is level with the top of the seat.  Their feet are not in danger of being hurt if they are touching the vehicle seat back, and they will not be uncomfortable if they are ‘filling’ the seat.  Child car seats are not unlike a crash helmet - a tight fit will provide better protection than having lots of room!



0+ Car Seat



The 9 month age given on a group 1 forward facing car seats is an approximate recommendation.  The 9kg minimum weight limit is just that, a minimum.  The best advice states to keep your child in each seat to the maximum limit, and then move them up.

Babies can legally move to a front facing seat at the 9kg minimum weight, but they must fit in the harness and also be able to sit unaided for a minimum of 30 minutes - no less.  Moving your child forward facing at 9kg is not just as safe as having them rear facing.

If your child has outgrown their baby seat by height or you want to move them up to the next stage before they have outgrown their seat, you do have the option of a combination 0+1 car seat.  This will let you have them in a full size group 1 car seat, but it is rear facing.  These seats can either rear face to 13kg or 18kg, and offer your baby the best safety of rear facing before you make the switch to front facing.


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If your baby is 9kg and outgrowing their baby seat by height you can also use a rear facing group 1 or 1,2 seat as well as the option of a 0+1 seat.



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Recap


Group 0+1: newborn - 18kg (newborn - approx 4 yrs)

Group 1: 9 - 18kg (mainly front facing, but rear facing seats available) (up to approx 4 years)

Group 1,2: 9-25kg (mainly rear facing) (Up to approx 6 years)

 

So… when can my baby move forward facing?  


Legally you can currently turn your baby forward facing once they weigh 20lb/9kg and they must also be sitting completely unaided for a minimum of 30 minutes.  If you are using an i-Size car seat, you must legally rear face until a minimum of 15 months.  Eventually, all children will be rear facing to at least 15 months by law.

However, ideally you would not move forward facing until they are at least 18kg/4 years old.  A rear facing group 1 (or group 1,2 seat) will provide much better protection for your child from the most dangerous and most common type of impact - a frontal impact.  The younger a child moves forward facing, the less protection they have in a crash - it could be the difference between life and death.  This doesn’t mean that you should ignore maximum outgrown limits on your seats however!  If your baby has outgrown the rear facing limit of their seat, they will need to move up to the next stage, be that rear or forward facing.

 

Are forward facing seats dangerous?


No, forward facing seats are not dangerous, but rear facing seats are much safer.  Since child seats were introduced, car seats have gone a long way in helping to reduce death and injury in children.  Forward facing car seats are designed to  restrain a child in a collision, which when they are correctly fitted and used - they do very well.  New technology and data does however show that children are much better protected by facing backwards when in the car.

 

 

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What to consider when choosing the next stage car seat?

What to consider when choosing the next stage car seat?

Life as a new parent comes with lots of challenges, including choosing car seats! Before you know it, your little one is starting to look a little big for his/her first stage seat. So, is it time to move up to a bigger seat? Should you choose a forward or rear-facing seat? What do you need to consider?


When is the infant carrier outgrown? 


Firstly, check the approval sticker on your car seat (often found underneath.)This will tell you the regulation your seat is approved to and its weight and/or height limit.



Most infant carriers are approved to R44/04 and classed as a group 0+. These seats have a weight limit of 13kg/29lbs. They are also outgrown when the top of your baby's head is level with the top of the seat.

If you have an infant carrier approved to R129 (i-Size) then it will have a height limit, e.g. 75cm, and possibly a weight limit too. These limits are clearly marked on the seat.

The infant carrier is outgrown once your child reaches the height or weight limit, whichever comes first. Don't worry about long legs over the edge, they are perfectly safe; or that your baby looks "squashed" – think of the car seat as a crash helmet, a tight fit is good.



Should I choose a forward or rear-facing seat?


It is safest to rear-face your child for as long as possible. This is due to their anatomy and the physics of an accident.Young children have relatively larger heads with less developed neck bones and muscles.In a frontal impact the head is thrown forwards, putting stress on the neck and spinal cord. The less developed the spine is, the greater the risk of serious injury. When rear-facing, the child's head, neck and spine are kept in alignment and the force is spread out over a greater area.


Does this mean forward facing seats are dangerous?


Simple answer is no. Since car seat regulations were introduced in the 1980's the number of fatally and seriously injured children has reduced. Forward facing seats do offer adequate protection as long as they are fitted and used correctly. However, rear-facing provides even better protection for your little one. If you do decide to buy a forward facing seat it is advised to keep your child in the infant carrier until it is completely outgrown.


What does the law say?


If you have a seat approved under R44/04 then it is legal to put your child into a forward facing car seat at 9kg.However, they should be able to sit unaided for at least 30 minutes and fit the seat they are going into.

If you have an i-Size seat, then legally your child must stay rear-facing until 15 months.Each i-Size seat also has a minimum height limit for forward facing.

Bear in mind that the law is a minimum standard: experts recommend rear-facing up to 4 years.


What else do I need to consider?


If your child doesn't like the infant carrier, or you would prefer to move them into a bigger seat, then you could look at Group 0+1 as these are rear-facing from birth initially, then turn forward facing at 9kg. Some can even rear-face up to 18kg. Or if your little one is 9kg and you would like a rear-facing seat then a Group 1,2 may suit you. Have a look at our car seat selector tool as it can help when choosing a seat:


Follow these points:


1. Check your child's height and weight

2. Keep your child in the infant carrier until it is completely outgrown

3. Choose a seat that is suitable for your child

4. Choose a seat that is suitable for vehicle/s that the seat will be fitted into

5. Visit a retailer to try a few seats in your car

6. Consider rear-facing for optimum safety

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Child seat group stages

For child car seats to legally be sold in the UK, they must pass various tests and gain recognised approval. To be sold, they can be approved to R44.04, which is a regulation that has been running for some years, or they can be tested under the new R129 (i-Size) standard, which was established in summer 2013.

This blog looks at the different group stages for R44.04 child car seats, along with the weight and the height limits that you should take into consideration. There are three main group stages and also combination group stages to create multi stage, longer lasting seats.


Group 0+


Continue reading
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What is a top tether?

​When you buy or use an ISOFIX child car seat, it will have the two ISOFIX bars on the back of the seat, and almost all ISOFIX seats will then have a third point of anchorage. This third point of anchorage is very important, as it prevents the ISOFIX child seat from moving too much in a collision. The third point of anchorage will either be a support leg, which is a very popular option, or a top tether. This article is focusing on the top tether – how to use it, what it does and the benefits.

What is a top tether?

The top tether is the third point of anchorage on an ISOFIX child car seat. It is a length of webbing which is attached to the back of the child seat, with a hook on the end. The top tether strap must have a green indicator on it to show when it has been pulled tightly enough.

How do you use a top tether?

​The top tether will pass over the top of the vehicle seat, and hook onto the top tether point. The top tether point will either be in the boot, on the back of the vehicle seat, or it may be in the roof of the car.

Top tether points are normally indicated with the anchor logo, or your car handbook will tell you where your point is.

What does it do?

As we have already mentioned, ISOFIX seats tend to have a third point of anchorage, which reduces dangerous movement of the seat in a collision. The top tether hooks behind the child seat onto the bracket in the car holding it in place, along with the ISOFIX arms.

In a collision, a child seat will move forward, and the seat can pivot on the ISOFIX arms. To prevent this from happening, and to also absorb energy from a collision, the top tether point is able to then reduce movement in the seat along with the ISOFIX, and absorb crash forces.

It is very important to ensure the top tether is used, if it is supplied.

What are the benefits?

Many ISOFIX seats have the support leg which reaches into the floor well, and this leg does the same job as the top tether point. However, the support leg is not compatible with every vehicle, and cannot be used in conjunction with floor storage compartments.

For ISOFIX seats with a top tether, there are not so many constraints. Providing the ISOFIX seat with top tether is classed as universal, and your cars' ISOFIX and top tether point are approved as universal, you are able to fit the seat in the car.

Top tether seats also tend to take up less room in the car, as there is no support leg in the cab – this can make it much easier for other passengers to get in and out, particularly older siblings who may sit in the middle.

ISOFIX seats with tethers may also be lighter, and therefore quicker and easier to move from car to car, as there is no heavy leg attached to the base.

Finally, ISOFIX + Top tether seats have all the same features and benefits that you would expect, such as easy adjust harnessing, some seats offer longer rear facing, and some even swivel!

Anything to consider?

As with any seat you buy, it is very important to ensure the seat fits every car it will be going into. Not all cars have top tether points, so be sure to check each car. Many ISOFIX + Top tether seats are ISOFIX only, very few have an option belt the seat in the car.

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The hidden projectile in your car - Booster seats

The hidden projectile in your car - Booster seats

 

When children are younger, they use a child car seat that contains a harness to restrain them. This seat is fitted into the car, where it normally stays strapped in, so even when your little one is not in the car, their seat remains restrained.

 

  

 

The next stage seat - boosters

When it comes to your child moving up to a booster seat, both the seat and the child are restrained with the adult seat belt.

 

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This means that unless you buy an ISOFIX booster seat, you need to remember to strap the booster in when not in use.

 

Why?

An unrestrained booster will multiply its weight by the force of a collision, so if you have a crash when your child is not in the car, but their booster is sat on the back seat - you have a very heavy projectile waiting to hit someone!

  

Spot the Error!

 

Spot the error! Take the above child seat, the Britax Adventure. This seat is known for being lightweight and portable, so it is easy to move between vehicle's. This child seat weighs just 3.9kg. In a 30mph collision, the seats weight will be multiplied, and when the seat flies forward, it will hit whatever it impacts with a weight of 117kg - or 18.4 stone! If you have a little one sat next to the seat that is flying around, or a passenger in the front, or even if the seat is behind you as a driver - 18 stone hitting the back of the seat, or a person is not good news! So for the safety of all, remember to strap in your non ISOFIX booster seat!

 

ISOFIX Boosters

 

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ISOFIX boosters don't need to be strapped in when your little one is not in the car, because the ISOFIX provides a rigid attachment to the vehicle. Just one of the great benefits of ISOFIX! Both ISOFIX and non-ISOFIX booster seats offer great protection for a child, but remember to strap in the non-ISOFIX booster when your child isn't out and about with you!

 

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My child escapes the harness when I am driving - help!

 

Does your child escape the harness?

Lots of parents have had the moment when you are driving along, glance at your little one and they’re having the time of their life on the back seat – with their arms in the air and out of the straps! So what can you do when your little one develops this habit?


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So what can you do when your little one develops this habit?

Be sure to remove any coats or puffy jackets and snowsuits  These thick items of clothing create a gap between your child and the harness, making it super easy for them to wriggle out!

Check the strap height – The straps should be level with your little one’s shoulders, at the point where the straps come out of the seat. If you can’t get the straps quite level, they may dip slightly below when rear facing, and sit just above the shoulders when forward facing.

Make sure the straps are tight enough – Pull the harness tight, and do the ‘dual test’. This is: ensuring you can fit no more than 2 fingers between your child and the harness at collar bone level, then check that you cannot pinch the harness strap together.

 

They still do it!

If you have done the above, and your child still escapes, you may want to try an aftermarket product designed to block the gap they get their arms out of.

 

5-point-plus 

The 5 point plus is a fully crash tested and approved anti escape device, which is also recommended by child seat manufacturers.  It is a long piece of breathable fabric which sits behind your child, and comes under their arms to wrap around the straps.  This then blocks the gap that they are getting their arms through to wriggle free.

 

Chest clips

There is a lot of confusion surrounding chest clips in the UK.  It is currently illegal to sell a child car seat in the UK, with a chest clip as part of the child seat.  This is because our approval requirements state that a child must be released from the child seat in one movement.  However, this does not apply to aftermarket products, and you can legally fit an aftermarket chest clip to your child’s car seat.

If you do choose to use a chest clip it is very important to check the following points:

That the clip safely and securely fits to the harness straps – it must not interfere with the placement of the chest pads on your child’s car seat.

The chest clip MUST sit at your child’s armpit level. It is very dangerous to get this wrong.

Once your child has broken the habit of wriggling their arms out, remove the chest clip.

 

Nothing works…

If nothing else works, you may need to buy your child a different child car seat.  For children very determined to escape the harness, or for those that really dislike it, an impact shield car seat is an alternative. 

 

Cybex Pallas

 

These can be better for children who often escape, as there is no 5 point harness in the seat to restrain them.  Instead they are restrained with an ‘impact shield’, which is placed over them, and the adult belt is placed over the shield to secure the child.

These seats often cover group stage 1,2,3, and will convert to be a high back booster, so it will be the last seat you need to buy your child.

 

Has your child ever escaped the straps?  What did you do to teach them to keep their arms in?

 

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What happens at a child car seat checking event?

 

Good Egg Safety is the leading child car seat initiative here in the UK checking more child car seats than any other UK organisation - over 22,000 since our campaign launched in 2001!

We offer free child car seat checking events because we feel that we cannot tell parents their children are in danger from poorly fitted child car seats, yet not offer them a solution!

 

So what happens at a Good Egg child car seat checking event?


Our Good Egg child car seat checking events are always run by a Good Egg Safety Expert.  These are highly trained and dedicated individuals who are able to check a wide range of child car seats.

The checking events normally run 11am - 4pm, although check your local event as times can differ!

The expert arrives early to the event to get set up, and we have a fun height chart for children to measure themselves, as well as a supply of stickers and our FREE Good Egg Guides.  

 

 

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How do we check a car seat?


When we check a car seat, we are checking for 4 things:

 1. That the child seat is compatible with your child

 2. That the child seat is compatible with your car

 3. That the child seat is fitted correctly, either ISOFIX or belt fitment

 4. That the child seat harness or seat belt is used correctly


Finally, we will also give any other useful advice - such as strapping non ISOFIX boosters in when not in use, and the importance of removing puffy clothing.



 

What happens if you've done something wrong?


We strive to ensure that we do not make you feel guilty, or judged if your car seat is incorrectly fitted.  It is very common to see errors on child car seats so it is nothing to feel ashamed about, and you've done the right thing by having your seat checked!

If your car seat is incompatible to your car or child, we clearly explain to you why it is not suitable, and what type of seat is required.  Although this may mean buying a new child car seat, it is not that often that we come across an incompatible seat.

If your child seat is fitted incorrectly, we will explain what the errors are to you, and show you how to put them right.  If your seat needs to be taken out and re-fitted, we will show you how to fit the seat properly, and then ask you to fit it yourself, so you can be fully confident the next time you need to fit your seat.

We also check that your child is strapped in properly, and for this we are ensuring that the harness or seat belt is at the correct height, and that the harness is the correct tension.  If your harness needs adjusting, we are able to show you how to do this.

 

What are the consequences if your seat is found to be incorrectly fitted?


At Good Egg, we always say that it is MUCH better to find an error on your car seat at a checking event, then during a collison.  A car crash would be a very bad time to find that you have an error on your child's car seat!

If you do have an incorrect seat, we will show you how to put it right.

We do not report parents for incorrectly fitted seats - we are more concerned that you are confident to fit the seat correctly in future.

 

 

Having your car seat checked is nothing to worry about, and it may save your child's life.

 

 

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Britax State of Safety Q&A

Our very own Good Egg Safety Expert, Kat, took over the Britax Twitter page last night to hold a Q&A. She received some great questions and you can find the answers below!

Kat


Q: I’d love to know the laws on taxis and car seats.


Kat: Under 3's - no seat required no seat belt. Over 3's - no seat, adult seat belt. Children should be in rear. We would prefer to see seats used whenever possible though!

 

Q: Hi Kat, when is the law coming in for rear facing longer?

Kat: iSize came into effect in July 2013, it's part of R129 and will be fully implemented by 2018. R44 seats are still legal to use.

 

Q: When Picking A Car Seat, Especially One That Will Go Behind The Driver What Is The Best Kind Of Seat To Go For?

Kat: It really depends on your child's weight and height, what car(s) the seat will go into. Britax fit finder is a great tool!



Q: What are your top tips travelling abroad this summer and hiring cars or using local taxis?

Kat: We have a great blog on flying with young children which covers what to do with car seats abroad.

 

Q: My littles one's car seat only goes up to 13kg and he's already 10kg at 6 months lots of bigger ones are forward facing.

Kat: There are combination rear facing car seats available that offer rear facing to 18kg/25kg the Britax Fit Finder tool can help you find a rear facing seat.

 

Q: I know SIDS can occur in car seats. How can I ensure my 7 month old is safe and always breathing on long journeys?

Kat: Always ensure you plan regular breaks into car journeys to give your baby plenty of time to stretch.

 

Q: Is there an easy way to temporarily disable airbags if the child rides on the front seat?

Kat: You need to check your vehicle manual, as each car can differ in how to disable the airbag - some cars don't allow it.

 

Q: I've always planned to stay rear facing as long as possible but my 2.5yo is tall and it's getting difficult. What's the new law and recommendations?

Kat: We have a great blog post on this which explains iSize.

 

Q: My son is 15.6kg, I plan to buy a 2nd car seat for use in grandparents car, should I buy a 15kg+ or an upto 18kg?

Kat: Your son is safer in a 5 point harness until 18kg, so long as he fits in the harness. the Britax Evolva is a great 123 seat, harness to 18kg and then it converts to HBB. Britax's fit finder will tell you if it fits your car.

 

Q: What car seat is best for extended rear facing for new born or 9 month old I have an isofix Britax car seat and base?

Kat: It really depends on the child and if it fits the vehicle, Britax's fit finder can help you highlight suitable seats.

 

Q: Is it best to rearward face as long as possible?


Kat: Yes we recommend that you rear face for as long as possible.

 

Q: Do car seats expire after a length of time?

Kat: Our blog explains car seats and expiry.

 

Q: Is there anywhere you can get the car seat fitted properly?

Kat: Good Egg run checking events throughout the country, and have a retailer charter.

 

Q: Height, weight or age. Which is most important?!

Kat: R44 seats go by weight, iSize seats by height, it's important to take age into account too (so not forward facing a 6 month old at 9kg)

 

Q: I want to keep my 18 month old rear facing long as possible. Is it less safe if running out of leg room?

Kat: No, legs are in very little danger when rear facing and very unlikely to get hurt.

 

Q: What age/weight is rear facing recommended to? Hoping to use my brother in law's old seat for new baby, is this still OK?

Kat: We recommend rear facing for as long as possible. Our blog will help with re-using a child car seat!

 

Q: What are the most important points to look for when choosing a toddler car seat?

Kat: That the seat is suitable for their weight and height, fits all cars it will be used in, is easy to fit and the level of side impact protection.

 

Q: We don't have isofix in our car, does that mean our car seat isn't as secure/safe?

Kat: Not at all, belt fit seats are safe, just ensure the seat is compatible to your vehicle and fitted correctly if you have a Britax seat, the fit finder can help you confirm it's compatibility.

 

Q: Is the max child height 105cm for all rear facing car seats?

Kat: No the 105cm only applies to iSize car seats.

 

Q: When we move onto the next stage seat should I take weight or height into consideration first?

Kat: It depends what seat you've got, as to when it's outgrown - but it's weight or height, whatever comes first.

 

Q: Realistically to what age can you rear face until? I'll be checking the height/weight but roughly what age?

Kat: To age 4, although some seats (such as the Britax Multi Tech or Max Way) will go to 25kg - approx age 6!

 

Q: Does certain clothing effect the safety of a harness on a car seat?

Kat: Yes. Thick, puffy or bulky clothing can cause an unsafe harness fit - best to remove all coats before strapping in!



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Global Road Safety Week Q&A!

Today our expert Kat took part in a live Q&A session over at Road Safety GB for Global Road Safety Week!

The session was very busy, with lots of questions answered - the hottest topics were iSize and booster cushions.

Do you have a burning question that isn't asked?  You can ask our experts at any time!

 

Ask an expert

 

1. Is an extended rear facing seat really safer than a forward facing Group 2/3 car seat? Why?


Child car seats which are tested under R44, are broken down into ‘group’ stages. The main stages are:
Group 0+ (infant seat)
Group 1 (toddler seat)
Group 2,3 (booster seat)

It is possible to have combinations of these seats, such as group 0+1, or group 123. Your question asks about group 2,3 car seats which are for children weighing 15kg, however, extended rear facing car seats are another option to group 1 toddler seats.

Rear facing children, after the infant seat stage, has been found to be safer. It is safer because a young child’s neck and spine are still developing, and their head is very heavy in proportion to this. In a frontal collision, which is the most dangerous and most common type of collision, a child’s neck is put under great amounts of strain. This is because the forward facing car seat secures their torso, but their head continues with the forward momentum. When rear facing, a child’s head, neck and spine remain fully aligned in a collision, which hugely reduces the force they are subjected to.

Countries which have their children rear facing until the age of 4 years have very low numbers of serious injuries and fatalities, and evidence does show that up to age 4, children are safest rear facing. Forward facing car seats have hugely reduced the numbers of children being killed or seriously injured, and we do not know how the misuse level affects the number of children getting hurt.

The risk of misuse is something to consider as well, as extended rear facing car seats can often be more difficult to fit – they are improving however and becoming easier to fit.

So in a nutshell, yes, rear facing is undoubtedly safer for children up to the age of 4, but it is important to ensure you fit and use the seat correctly.

 

2. Booster cushions (which I believe are a seat pad with no back) according to the .Gov website:  "should only be used for children over 22kgs." However they are being sold in high street stores as suitable for Group 2 with a 15kgs minimum weight limit on them.  Does this mean they are legal to use from 15kgs, or is the .gov website the law? Or does a child from 15kgs up to 22kgs have to have a "Rear or forward-facing child seat (booster seat)" as the .gov website says? Could you be prosecuted for having a child under 22kgs on a booster cushion?


Booster cushions are approved from 15kg, and may be used once a child reaches this weight, provided the adult seat belt fits across them safely (lap belt low on hips, and the shoulder belt running from their hip and across their shoulder). However, children are safest using a high back booster, over a booster cushion – although you won’t be prosecuted if you do use a cushion. Both high back boosters and booster cushions may be used from 15kg, up to 36kg/12 years old/135cm – whichever comes first.


3. I'd love to see some more evidence that impact shields aren't as safe as harnesses as there's a lot of confusion caused by how those seats perform in tests where dummies can't record the internal injuries, but apparently loads on the necks are lower than in forward facing harnessed seats?


Impact shield car seats spread the force of a collision over a wider surface area, which reduces the forces a child’s neck is subject to – these forces are lower than when a child is using a 5 point harness. The test dummies do not currently measure abdominal forces and there is currently no evidence available to show if impact shields are less safe due to abdominal loading.


4. Are high backed boosters with Isofix any safer than ones without? Thanks.


There is little safety difference in performance between ISOFIX and non ISOFIX high back boosters – both will protect a child well in a collision. ISOFIX is beneficial however, as it keeps the booster locked into place when the child is not in the car. A loose booster is a very dangerous projectile if you were to be involved in a collision, and the ISOFIX removes this risk as the seat is attached to the car.


5. I have heard it is unsafe for newborn babies to be in an infant car seat for extended periods of time. However some reports quote for as little as 20 minutes whereas others quote 2 hours. What is the recommended length of time for a baby to be safely in a car seat and if it is unsafe why are infant seats still being sold with pushchairs as a viable option for a newborn?


The research to show the safe amount of time a baby can be in a car seat has shown that the car seat can cause a baby’s oxygen saturation levels to drop. When tests have been carried out, the oxygen saturation levels have been shown to drop within 30 minutes. The ‘2 hour rule’ is generally thought to be the maximum amount of time a baby should be in their seat at any one time, although some organisations cite 90 minutes. There are other risks associated with infants spending too much time in their car seat, such as the development of ‘flat head syndrome’. Your baby must always use their car seat when in the car, but parents and carers should ensure they plan time for regular breaks of at least 20 minutes. If a car seat is going to be used on a pram chassis, it should only be used for quick trips, and the baby is safest being transferred to the lie flat pram if you will be out for any length of time.

 

6. Why are backless booster seats still available to buy if they offer no body protection for children?


Booster cushions are tested under R44.04 which tests for a frontal impact, rear impact and roll over - there is currently no side impact test required under R44. A booster cushion is designed to lift a child up enough so that the adult seat belt fits safely across their hips and upper body, it does not offer any protection for the torso, head or neck. A child is safer using a high back booster over a booster cushion whenever possible.

 

7. BeSafe say that their ERF seats are 5x safer. I know it relates to the load on the child's neck in the event of an accident. However, 5 x safer than what? 5 times safer than ANY forward facing seat, or 5 times safer than a harnessed seat? If this is true, why do seats with impact shields top the Which? Best Buy charts, and the first ERF seat is 11th in the chart, and only scores 4 stars for overall safety rear facing (not 5 stars.) What is the truth behind the marketing? Are ERF really safer? Are impact shields safer for the child as the Which results imply?


The 5x safer rule comes from a report which was undertaken in Sweden, which found that children were 5 times safer rear facing, than if they were forward facing in a booster seat. In Sweden, children are either rear facing up to age 4, or they are put into a booster seat – forward facing harnessed car seats are not available there, and so there is no evidence relating directly to them. What we have seen, however, is that Sweden has a very low casualty rate, whereas the UK rate is still too high. There is no doubt that forward facing car seats do a very good job and protect children in our cars, however, rear facing car seats do offer the best protection, particularly for younger children.

WHICH? take into account many things, as well as crash performance. One of the things which can bring a score down is ‘ease of fitting and use’ – extended rear facing car seats are considered to be difficult to fit and use, which is why they score more poorly. Impact shield seats score highly because they slightly reduce the force to a child’s neck and are considered easier to fit and use, and are quick to transfer between vehicles. However, based solely on crash performance, rear facing car seats are safer.

 

8. Is it true that although i-Size keeps children rear facing until 15 months old, this also means that the smallest 15 month olds - the lower 25% of 15 month olds will legally be able to forward face even if they weigh just 6, 7 or 8kgs? Will any minimum weight or height limit be added to an infant carrier to protect these children or will they really be fine forward facing at 15 months old?


i-Size does require children to rear face to 15 months old, and they are allowed to turn forward once they are 15 months, as there is no lower weight limit. However, i-Size child seats do have a lower height limit, so a child will not be allowed to use a seat they are not tall enough for, even if they are 15 months. A child may use the infant seat past 15 months, if they are within the height limit of the seat –the height on i-Size infant seats is 83cm.


9. I'm having trouble with my ERF, ISOFIX, swivel seat. I am speaking to the company but it looks as though I'm going to have to have a different seat. I'm not going to be able to have rear-facing (she's 18 months) so my choice will be between forward facing static ISOFIX seat or forward-facing swivel non-ISOFIX. Having a swivel seat makes my life easier, and I feel I can pull the straps tighter, but I want the one which is safest for my child. If fitted correctly, do you think a non-ISOFIX seat can be as safe as ISOFIX?


A non ISOFIX child car seat will perform just as well in a collision as an ISOFIX seat if they are both correctly fitted, however ISOFIX is considered safer as it is easier to fit.

With any child restraint that you buy, it is vitally important to visit a retailer who can give you advice and ensure the seat is compatible with your child and vehicle, as well as show you how to fit and use the child seat.

There are a number of swivel seats coming to market, many of which also do forward facing and are ISOFIX.


10. I'm confused with ISIZE as a lot of websites say it's the new regulation but then others say it's just a part of a new regulation. Which is it?


i-Size is both – it is a new regulation, but it is also part of an ‘overall’ regulation – which can become a little confusing!

The new regulation is R129, which i-Size is part of. i-Size covers phase 1 of the new regulation 129, and phase 2 which is looking at the safety of booster seats, is currently underway with completion aimed for 2016. Finally, phase 3 will be looked at, which includes all belt fitted only seats, the aim for completion on this is 2018.

So i-Size is a new regulation, but it is part of a larger regulation – R129.

The older regulation R44 is still valid and will be for some time yet, you do not have to replace your current car seat if it is not i-Size.

 

11. I was recently at a road safety conference in Dublin. In a survey the Irish Road Safety Authority found that 3 out of 4 child seats were incorrectly fitted and would therefore not meet required performance in the event of a collision. They have initiated "Check it fits" roadshows visiting supermarkets, etc. Are any similar initiatives planned in the UK?


Good Egg Safety runs a national child car seat awareness campaign and we conduct child car seat checking events across the UK. We are just about to launch a Child Seat Checking Roadshow throughout Scotland. You can find a list of checking events on the website: www.goodeggcarsafety.com

We have checked over 21,000 child car seats nationally since 2001 and data from our most recent 5 year average (12500 checks) indicates that 57% of child car seats are incorrectly fitted or used – last year alone 71% of seats in England and Wales were incorrect and 64% in Scotland.

It has prompted the development of a powerful new advert which will be screened here on Road Safety GB’s GRSW site on Monday 11th May so stay tuned and keep checking goodeggcarsafety.com for all the new child seat checking events clinics being booked throughout this year.


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