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How do we assess the safety of a car seat according to legislative recommendations and best practice rules?

ISO-FIX standards, ECE44.04, ECE44.03

The use of child restraint systems (infant seat, car seat, booster seat) is a must, a prevention method that we must adopt as a driver and parent. From birth to about 12 years old, children need different types of car safety devices. 

Depending on the seat model chosen, most likely as parents we will purchase at least 2 or 3 different types of car seats.

Car seats offer the best protection for children in the event of a crash, from birth until they reach the correct height to wear a seat belt.

There are several types of car seats for child passengers, categorized according to age and weight (seats with the R44 standard) and according to height (seats with the R129 standard, i-Size).

The most important thing when choosing a car seat for your child is to first check whether it meets the European safety standard, namely R44, or R129 (i-size). This means that the seat has been tested and certified for child safety.

You will find the R44 standard in Romanian under the name of Uniform Provisions on the approval of child restraint systems in passenger cars ("Child restraint systems"), and on the products will have the code UN ECE R44.03, or UN ECE R44.04 - these are the codes that are still in use. You will find the R129 standard in Romanian under the name of Uniform Provisions regarding the homologation of the improved safety systems for children used on board vehicles (ECRS - Enhanced Child Restraint Systems), and on the products it will have the UN ECE code R129 or i-size. This standard took effect in 2013 and brings improvements to safety standards:

1. The most important of these new regulations is that a child must be seated in a rear-facing child restraint system from birth to at least 15 months old.

2. The new classifications of child car seats, also known as the “I-size” standard, classify seats according to the child's height, and not by weight, because age and weight have not proven to be the safest measurements. The i-size seats, however, also have a weight limit that cannot be stepped on, regardless of height.

3. R129 or i-size car seats are now being tested for side impact in case of a crash. Previous standards indicate mandatory only for frontal impact testing.

4. The new models of child restraint systems have 2 lower attachment points and an additional support leg, which attaches easily and provides greater stability. This fastening system is known as ISOFIX.

5. Ask if the seat needs extra support for the stability of the seat. Some seats have such an additional support that rests on the floor of the car and comes to the aid of the parents to adjust the angle of inclination or fixing of the seat.

In the event of a car crash, a 9 kg child may experience a deceleration force of up to 270 kg. This force is 10 times higher than the force to which astronauts are exposed when a rocket is launched!

In a study conducted locally in Cluj-Napoca, it was found that 51% of children aged 0 to 3 years are not correctly using child restraint systems, although 90% of them were in an infant seat or using a car seat. Also, the older the children get, the more likely they are to be transported without car safety devices. Thus, the risk of injuring children over the age of 5 is higher because they are not secured properly in car seats or booster seats adjusted for their height and weight.