ECE Groups – Safety Tips

Here you will find important tips relating to the particular group

Safety Tips for Group 0+

(0-13 kg. from birth to approx. 18 months)

Transporting a Child in an Infant Carrier

Baby bouncers and baby carriers offer the baby very little protection in an accident. The infant car seat is the right equipment for transporting a baby by car. This is installed as a rear-facing system ("Reboard"). The seat is either secured with a retractable three-point-belt or a belted or ISOFIX base.

Use a Rear-Facing Infant Carrier for as long as possible

The European Standard ECE-R 44 dictates that a seat should face the rear until the child weighs 10kg-13 kg. There is less risk of injury to a baby in a rear-facing seat compared to a front-facing model, which exposes the weak neck muscles of a young child to excessive strain, even in a minor crash. This is because the child's head is still very heavy compared to the rest of its body. For this reason, the child should be transported in the infant carrier for as long as possible, even if its legs protrude and touch the backrest of the car seat. If the child faces the front too early, the whiplash to the head can cause serious injury in a collision, possibly even breaking the cervical spine. The child can remain in the infant carrier up to a weight of 13kg or until the head has reached the top end of the carrier.

Important! Never use the infant carrier on the passenger seat when the front airbag is activated!

Please note: Infant carriers may not be used on the passenger seat with an activated front airbag. The carrier may only be used on the passenger seat of a car, if the front airbag has been deactivated! Some car manufacturers do not allow infant carriers to be used on the passenger seat at all. The reasoning for this is based on a theoretical risk of injury sustained by the side airbag.

Safety Tips for group 1

(9- 18 Kg, approx. 9 months - 4 years)

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 three-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.

Securing the Child with a safety Belt

The safety belt and the correct fastening procedure greatly contribute to the safety of your 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 1, 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 five-point harnesses, hold the shoulders firmly in position.

CYBEX recommends that rearward facing for as long as is possible is the best approach. However, when using a forward facing seat CYBEX recommends the use of a safety cushion to ensure a very high level of safety for your child.

Systems with a safety cushion

Systems with a safety cushion (impact shield) follow a similar principle to an inflated airbag. In comparison with a regular 5-point harness system, our data supports that 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.

Problem Missuse in group 1

A comparative Study of harness Systems vs. safety cushion from Spanish Automobile Club RACE

A survey conducted by prominent Spanish automobile club, RACE, found that children frequently remove their arms from the harness systems typically found in Group 1 car seats. This was the case in 43% of all responses. But what are the consequences of this? How can we avoid this type of misuse? Is there a safer more effective alternative on the market?

To find this out, two crash tests were conducted under the same test criteria and with two different seats of the same ECE group, each featuring a different restraint system:

Test 1:

Group 1/2/3 car seat with harness system and ISOFIX connection

Test 2:

Group 1/2/3 car seat with safety cushion and ISOFIX connection

The purpose of the crash test was to demonstrate the consequence of this common type of misuse. The results show that when a child frees his/her arms from the harness system the seat cannot work properly and cannot fulfil its protective function. 

Source:
RACE: Informe sobre Protección Infantil en el vehículo: La Seguridad Responsible (2011).
Download PDF here.

Test Criteria

Both tests are based on a front impact between two cars at 64km/h with an overlap of 40% on the driver's side.

  • Seat installed on the right seat in the rear
  • Car chassis: Audi Avant A4, without front seats
  • Dummy: P3 Model

Results for test one – misuse of harness system (the arms are located outside the harness system)

For a child who is not using the safety harness properly, there is a clear risk to hit other parts of the car because the child’s chest is not restrained.  During the impact, the car seat remains fixed to the car and the harness remains locked into the harness buckle. Based on the measured data, the probability of severe injuries is very high after the impact.

Test 1 in detail

Results for test two – child secured with safety cushion in a CYBEX Pallas-fix car seat

The child restraint system fulfils the dynamic needs and prevents the ejection of the child. There is no risk of hitting any other elements inside the car.

The dummy of a three year old remains inside the restraint system, which remains properly fixed to the vehicle after the impact. Based on the measured data, the probability of survival is very high.

Test 2 in detail

Description:

  1. At 46 milliseconds (the beginning of the impact) the acceleration of the chassis reaches its maximum level. The child remains in the car seat with the chest already touching the safety cushion. The car seat has started to move forward.
  2. Later, the dummy still remains in the car seat because of the safety cushion. The chest continues to press against the safety pillow.
  3. At approx. 81 milliseconds the head touches the safety pillow. The car seats continues to move forward until millisecond 104.
  4. Millisecond 104: the forward displacement of the car seat and passenger has reached the maximum, remaining inside the permissible limits. The deceleration levels have fallen significantly with no risk for the child. The probability of survival without severe injury is high. During the backward movement of the car seat the acceleration levels remain low. At millisecond 181 the head impacts against the headrest of the car seat. The level of head acceleration does not exceed 72g. There is no risk for the child, that always remains inside the restraint system.
  5. The dummy of three year old remains in the restraint system, which remains fixed to the vehicle after the impact. Based on the measured data and evaluated criteria, the probability of survival of the child is high.

Rear-facing Systems

In most countries, car crashes are the leading cause of death of children aged one and above. Statistically, Group 1 children (from approx. 9 months to four years of age) see a significantly higher rate of injuries compared to the rearward facing group 0+. This statistic can be attributed to the child’s growth, as the head of the child as it is still relatively large and heavy and the neck muscles are not yet strong enough to withhold the forces of an accident.

Only at the age of approximately four years the head size in relation to the body evens out and the neck muscles have developed sufficiently to cope with heavier strains.

A forward facing child is subjected to extremely high forces in the case of an accident. In a front impact crash, a typical 5-point harness system found in Group 1 car seats hold the shoulders back while the head of the child is propelled forward with a very high force.

In rearward facing car seats the forces of an impact are distributed evenly over a large area. The strain on the neck, head and chest is significantly reduced.

A rear-facing child car seat significantly reduces the risk of injury in a head-on collision when compared to a conventional forward-facing seat with harness system.

Statistics show that in markets with rearward facing Gr. 1 seats (e.g. Sweden), the injury rate in Group 1 remains stable compared to rearward facing group 0+. In comparison, injuries sky-rocket in Germany where front facing seats with harness system are most common in Group 1.

This is why leading consumer and health organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Europe’s biggest automobile club the German ADAC, German independent testing institute Stiftung Warentest, Germany’s biggest car magazine Autobild, the Austrian and Swiss automobile clubs ÖAMTC and TCS, Sweden’s largest insurance company Folksam and many other organizations recommend to keep children in rearward facing child seats beyond Group 0+.

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Safety Tips for Group 2/3

(15- 36 Kg, approx. 3- 12 years)

Characteristics of Group 2/3 seats

In the case of Group 2/3 child restraint systems, children are generally secured using the vehicle's own retractable 3-point safety belt. Children should never be secured with just a pelvic belt. In the event of a collision, the child's upper body would be propelled forward and the child could sustain serious injuries to the head. The optimum features of a Group 2/3 seat include a comfortable booster seat with a height-adjustable backrest and sufficient shoulder protection in case of a side-impact collision.

Choosing the right time to switch to group 2/3

It is important to ensure that the switch to a Group 2/3 child restraint system is not made too early, since these seats are wide enough to accommodate older children as well. A small child can therefore easily slip out of the safety belt, particularly when it falls asleep en route. The child's shoulders are also too narrow to hold the safety belt securely in place.

Booster Seats

The idea behind a child restraint system is to adapt the car's safety belt system to the size of the child. Standards ECE R 44/03 and 44/04 indicate that a booster seat for children weighing more than 15kg is theoretically sufficient to fulfil this purpose. However, we strongly recommend using a complete seat with a backrest to offer optimum protection to the pelvis, shoulders and head. The differences between simple booster seats and sturdy seat with backrests and snugly fitting safety belts are astounding.

We discourage parents from opting for just a booster seat for the following reasons:

The problem with booster seats is that they do not offer any side protection. A safety seat with a backrest is fitted with sides, preventing the child's head from hitting the car window in a collision. Moreover, a side-impact collision is capable of causing serious injury, and children may also suffer additional injury from the side airbag. Airbags may protect adults, but they can pose a serious risk to children. Statistics show that one in four collisions involve impact to the side of the vehicle.

Even more alarming is the fact that these side-impact collisions account for 20 per cent of all collision-related deaths and seriously debilitating injuries among children. A booster seat does not provide sufficient protection to the child's most vulnerable areas. There is always a danger that the booster seat could slide underneath the child. Booster seats do not position the safety belt around the shoulder area, causing the belt to sit too closely to the neck. The compact design of a seat with a backrest not only ensures that the child is secured more firmly but that the belt is also always in the right position.

is your child properly secured?

Please follow the points below:

  • The pelvic belt runs over the thighs or pelvis
  • The child's bottom is positioned at the back of the seat and touches the backrest
  • The shoulder belt is guided over the shoulders – and not along the neck
  • The belt rests against the child's body