Düsseldorf If the offspring is announced, the parents arrange themselves. A proper child seat shouldn’t be missing in the car either. Experts from ADAC and Stiftung Warentest explain how to avoid mistakes and how to properly strap children into the car.
For parents, the health of their children comes first. This also applies when driving a car. For parents of young children, the question arises what seat they need. When buying and using, errors can easily occur. According to Stiftung Warentest, about half of children wear the wrong seat belt and will not be well protected in the event of an accident.
Notify, inform, inform How do you know the quality of a child seat? There is no distinction between good and bad child seats in terms of appearance and price, says Reiner Metzger of Stiftung Warentest. So parents should invest a little time and inform themselves in advance.
Regular tests conducted by ADAC and Stiftung Warentest can provide guidance. They examine behavior in the event of side impact, frontal impact, operation, and adaptation to body size, ergonomics, and pollution.
In principle, all approved seats must meet the so-called UN-ECE standard, an international standard for child car seats. If the seat meets all the requirements, it receives a seal of approval. Three standards are currently approved by the ADAC: i-Size / UN ECE Reg. 129, UN ECE Reg. 44/04 and UN ECE Reg. 03/44. Older seats with ECE-R 44/01 and 44/02 are not permitted. Thus, all approved models meet the minimum requirements – but there is still room for improvement.
Buying a child seat? Often turns into three Since children up to 12 years of age or 1.50 meters in height must be secured, parents usually create two to three seats for their children, according to the experience of product testers. It starts with a child seat for the first 15 months, followed by a child seat for toddlers up to 4 years old and ends with the older child model. There are also foldable and growing seats that can be changed as desired.
Especially in the beginning, says Rainer Metzger, parents can benefit from a whole lot of good models. “The standard is so high for baby carriers, there’s rarely anything unsafe.”
The situation is different for older child seats. Time and time again, they do poorly in tests. Specially mounted models such as growing and folding seats have to make some compromises, which often have a negative impact on safety and handling.
Purchase Checklist ADAC’s Andreas Raczyk has one piece of advice for parents: get good advice and definitely bring your own car and, above all, your child when buying it. As a project manager in the field of vehicle safety, he regularly tests child seats and learns about defects on some models.
Since they can be so different, not every seat can fit in every car. It’s also helpful to have the service shown to you during the consultation, Raczyk says. In the worst case, negligence when installing child seats can cost a child’s life.
Therefore, ADAC created a checklist. Here are some points you should keep in mind:
- The child seat must be securely and securely attached to the vehicle. In older cars, longer seat belt attachments can prevent this.
- Belts should run as straight and wrinkle free as possible.
- Is the strap length long enough to attach baby carriers? If not, you should use a separate rule to avoid buckling errors. This is firmly attached to the vehicle with an Isofix connection and the seat can then be fixed in place. As long as children are sitting back, experts recommend doing so.
- Even with booster seats with back support, the harness should automatically roll back when the child leans forward.
- CAUTION: Not all seats are suitable for every vehicle. Those with near-universal approval, which includes all child seats with booster legs, usually come with a list of suitable vehicle types.
Attention application error: Buckle up! Both experts say there are often errors in the use of child seats, in particular. According to Andreas Raczyk, manufacturers are constantly working to simplify handling, but surveys have shown that children sit incorrectly on almost every second ride in the car because their parents are very negligent in everyday life.
The straps should be tight. No hand should be placed between the belt and the child, according to the Stiftung Warentest standard. The tape should not go beyond the child’s neck either.
Time and time again Rainer Metzger is told that children are too small for seats or are propped forward too quickly. “A lot of accidents happen face to face,” he says. That’s why parents have to insure their children backwards until the age of 15 months or – if possible – up to two years.
Even with older children, parents should remain vigilant. They could not stand the shock because their muscles were still weak. For butchers, back support and side impact protection are part of a good seat until the end of the mandatory period. Pure seat cushions for bigger kids rest on it.
How much should a child seat cost? The question of price still needs to be clarified: depending on the age of the child, parents sometimes have to dig deep into their pockets. Warentester Metzger gives an indicative value for baby carriers without a base between 100 and 250 euros, with a base for tapping in at 100 to 200 euros. Those for young children cost between 200 and 400 euros, but can also cost more.
The good news: seats are again becoming cheaper for children over one meter in height, and good models can be bought for as little as 100-200 euros.
New or used baby seats? Given the costs, could used benches be a viable solution as well? The product testing specialist finds it difficult to make a recommendation. Because after an accident, the child seat is put in the garbage. Here’s the problem for him: “You can’t tell by looking at the seat if it’s really damaged.” You have to know the previous owner well if you want to use used seats, he says.
On vacation or in a taxi? Not only do children need adequate protection in their car. This also applies to the use of cars and taxis as well as rental cars. As the ADAC notes, taxi drivers are generally required to have a child seat in the car, but they do not have child seats in their group.
If there is no suitable child safety device in the car, the parents have the right to get another car with a child seat. However, the quality parents expect is a “gamble,” says Rainer Metzger.
After all, only taxi and rental car companies will have to comply with the minimum standards. Basically, driving without a child seat is a wrong decision. The driver is not only responsible for the safety of children. In the event of an accident, children are not adequately secured – with dire consequences in the worst case.
Child seats are mandatory until this age According to the ADAC, parents in Germany are required to secure their children in a child seat when driving up to the age of twelve or a height of 1.50 metres. There are also licensing regulations to prevent injuries. This means that newborns are not allowed to sit safely in the direction of travel as long as they weigh less than nine kilograms or are less than 15 months old.
Babies may not be attached directly to a car seat belt until they weigh 15 kilograms or are 1 meter in length. Up to this point, they must be attached to so-called integrated child seats with tie belts or with an impact shield. It is also important for older children that the vehicle’s three-point seat belt passes over the child’s body like an adult.