Child safety, Traffic violations
Child safety

Use for child res­traint sys­tems

The protection offered by child seats has improved constantly since they became mandatory in 1993. Although a wide range of different models are available, it can reasonably be said that even the simplest and cheapest seats offer adequate protection in theory.

The main problem in connection with child seats is misuse. Studies have repeatedly shown that around two-thirds of all child seats are used incorrectly, which can considerably reduce or even nullify the protection they provide.

The misuse of child seats and the associated problems should therefore be continually examined. Since the last major field study conducted in Germany and elsewhere in Europe, circumstances have fundamentally changed. The ISOFIX system is now a statutory requirement for affixing the child seat to the vehicle, and new legislation on the approval of child seats (ECE-R 129) has come into force.

Consequently, the purpose and goal of this study of misuse is both to give a current picture of the use of child seats and to ascertain whether the action taken in the past to improve child safety in cars has been effective. In terms of its scope, this study sets a new benchmark. With over 1,000 cases examined, it is significantly more comprehensive than all previous field studies on this issue in Germany.

The field study was started at the end of June 2016 and completed in June 2017. The data collected was evenly distributed throughout this period. Compared to previous studies, there were a significantly larger number of cases in the field research. The large data set of 1,042 cases also permits a detailed analysis for specific lines of questioning, allowing reliable results to be obtained.

52.4 percent of the total of 1,042 children were correctly secured, and 47.6 percent were incorrectly secured. The misuse rate is thus under 50 percent for the first time in this kind of study (see figure). The misuse rate for child seats has dropped significantly.

When the misuse rate is broken down across the different groups of child restraint systems, it varies greatly. Misuse occurs in Groups 0/0+ and 1 significantly more frequently than in Group 2/3. The main reason for this is that it is significantly easier to secure a child in a Group 2/3 seat, since in this case the child and child seat are secured together by means of the seat belt. In the other two child restraint system groups, the child seat generally has its own belt system for securing the child in the seat, and the seat is fitted in the vehicle separately.

There are significantly more child restraint systems affixed to the vehicle by means of ISOFIX in this study than previous studies. This trend has a very direct impact on the frequency of misuse. As can be seen in figure 12, there is very significantly less misuse in connection with ISOFIX seats than with child seats secured by means of a three-point seat belt. This illustrates the positive impact of a technical standard with which vehicles and child restraint systems have increasingly complied in recent years.

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