FAQs of Child Restraint Systems

Here you will find the most frequently asked questions together with our corresponding answers.

CAN THE CHILD SAFETY SEAT ALSO BE USED ON THE FRONT PASSENGER SEAT?

Generally speaking, child restraint systems may be used on the front passenger seat. In the case of rear-facing systems (e.g. Group 0+ infant carriers), the passenger airbag must be deactivated, otherwise the child may sustain serious injury in the event of a collision! Some car manufacturers, however, do not recommend using the passenger seat in this way due to the possible risk of the airbag being triggered (e.g. BMW, Volvo, Opel with side airbags). Please read your car instruction manual or ask your local dealership. The German automobile club ADAC recommends that parents use the rear car seats for securing their children.

WHICH IS THE SAFEST SEAT 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.

DANGER, AIRBAG: WHAT I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CHILD SAFETY SEATS AND AIRBAGS

Airbags were developed to make driving even safer. However, they are only suitable for children aged 15 and over. If you place an infant carrier on the passenger seat without deactivating the airbag, the baby is exposed to extreme danger. This is why child safety seats and infant carriers should be installed on the rear seat, as an inadvertent error whilst attaching the seat or an unwittingly activated airbag are enough to expose your child to considerable risk. This is because the child can sustain serious injury to the head and neck if impacted by an airbag. (Craig Newgard from the University of Portland in Oregon, examined just how much greater this danger actually is: The risk of sustaining serious injury on the front passenger seat is almost three times higher than on the rear seat, whilst a triggered airbag increases the risk sixfold! In his eight-year research, Newgard analysed 3,790 accidents involving children aged between one month and 18 years of age, who were sitting on the passenger seat).

REAR-FACING SEATS: SHOULD THE CHILD SAFETY SEAT POINT FORWARDS OR BACKWARDS?

Statistically, the risk of injury in the case of forward-facing Group I seats (approx. 9 months to 4 years) is significantly higher than for rear-facing seats in the 0+ category (from birth to approx. 18 months), since the child’s head is still very large and heavy in comparison with the rest of its body.

This is due to the conventional 5-point harness system on forward-facing car seats which firmly holds the shoulders in place and thus subjects the neck to considerable stresses in the event of a collision. In the case of rear-facing seats, the collision energy is absorbed by the extensive area of the seat, thus providing relief for the head, neck, shoulders and internal organs.

WHAT DOES ISOFIX MEAN?

ISOFIX is an anchorage system for child restraint systems which is standardised internationally. You can tell whether or not your restraint system is fitted with one, if it is equipped with two connectors. Usually, the name of the seat also indicates whether it uses the ISOFIX system. Models with this device can only be used in cars that are also equipped with the ISOFIX anchorage points, and are compatible with the seat model in question. Many child safety seat manufacturers offer a compatibility check on their websites and specialist retailers should also draw your attention to this feature. The seat connectors are latched onto the anchorage points in the car using snap locks; the anchorage points are located between the rear backrest and the rear seat. During assembly it is important that a clearly audible click is heard, as only then are the snap locks properly secured to the anchorage points. When installed correctly, the seat is firmly connected to the car’s bodywork.

The Aton Base is firmly and securely fixed to the car seat using the ISOFIX connectors and a support leg. The infant carrier can then simply be placed in position. Important: Here too, the vehicle must be compatible with the base!

WHAT IS A TOP TETHER?

Top Tether are additional anchorage points located in different positions behind the rear seat. However, not all cars are fitted with one, especially older models. The additional belt at the top of the child restraint system reduces the forward displacement of the head during a head-on collision. Generally, only forward- and backward-facing Group I seats (9-18 kg) with a backrest can be anchored with a top tether system.

Even so, it is advisable not to use a top tether seat as they are rather more difficult to install and thus increase the risk of error. In the most recent tests, conducted by German car magazine auto, motor und sport, an additional problem emerged: If the constellation of the top tether points on the seat and the car is unfavourable, an inflexible connection may arise. This occurred in some of the tests, causing the seats to snap in two! When a system fails so radically, good values for the forward displacement of the head suddenly seem irrelevant. If the vehicle is involved in an accident, the seat may offer protection on first impact but if another car runs into the back of you or you crash into another obstacle, the seat may break and thus no longer provide the slightest protection! (auto, motor und sport, 14.01.10)