You should give due consideration to your child’s safety long before you start the car. You wouldn’t drive your car without checking the tread and pressures of your tyres, so why would you ever set out on a car journey without first checking your child restraint system?
- It should be suitable in terms of size and weight.
- It should be correctly installed.
- The child should be correctly positioned in the child restraint system.
How do you know if the child restraint system is suitable for the size and weight of the child?
Besides their corresponding instructions, all child restraint systems come with an approval label which specifies the weight or height limit of every child restraint system.
You should note that, for safety reasons, children up to 18 kg or 105 cm are supposed to travel in rear-facing seats.
You are strongly advised not to use a second-hand CRS or one that is more than 7 years old.
The child restraint system must be adapted to suit the child at all times, and never the other way round.
How do you correctly install the CRS?
It is correctly installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. You should avoid the following common mistakes that people tend to make:
- Not placing the rollover protection hoop in the correct position within the car, in the case of CRS for new-born children.
- Not attaching or tightening the top tether on the group 1 CRS.
- If the CRS has a support leg, not lowering it all the way to the floor or placing it on the cover of a container of some sort.
- As for CRS intended for older children, a common mistake usually involves fastening the child restraint system to the car’s headrest or directly removing the car seat’s headrest.
How to ensure that the child is correctly positioned in the CRS?
This aspect is as important as any other. The best car and the best CRS, even one that is correctly installed, will not protect the child unless the child is securely placed into the CRS.
In the case of younger children, the fastening system is the 3 or 5-point harness. For safety reasons, it is much better for children secured by a harness to travel in rear-facing seats. Two of the more common ways in which the harness is incorrectly used are: The harness is placed at the incorrect height in relation to the child’s shoulder and the harness is not taut enough. By and large, the harness must be aligned with the height of the shoulder and must not be below or above that height; the harness must be taut enough so that the harness strap cannot be pinched with your fingers. The harness must be tightened firstly at the hips and then the chest; it will normally need to be tightened three times to secure the child who should never wear a coat or too much clothing during a car journey.
If the child is older and has a group 2/3 CRS, a safety belt will secure the child in the event of a collision. To ensure that your child is
protected in the event of a collision, the safety belt strap must be placed across the collarbone and fed around the child’s hips. Boosters without head protection are commonly used. They are legal for children over 22 kg. However, safety is reduced five-fold in the event of an accident. You are advised to maintain head protection until your child reaches an approximate height of 150 cm.
Common mistakes include excess recline, incorrectly feeding the belt across the neck and pelvis and not making the belt taut enough. This means that the child may unnecessarily experience an underwater effect in the event of an accident.
Many mistakes can be avoided before setting out on your car journey, such as ensuring that the CRS is suitable for the child. Multi-group CRS are misleading for many families and when children are 105 cm tall or weigh 18 kg, you should review the CRS instructions because, in most cases, it is necessary to change or adapt the CRS and to remove the harness.
Only when you have checked everything and your children are sitting in their CRS should you set out on your journey. You should bear in mind the minor safety details, which cost you absolutely nothing, when you set out on your journey.
The driver should stop every 2 hours to rest and stretch their legs. This keeps everyone safe. Though don’t forget about the little ones, especially those under the age of one, as they must be taken out of the CRS to prevent postural asphyxia. For most, though not all, CRS available on the market, the baby’s position in the CRS may cause some postural asphyxia if the child is kept in the same position for an extended period.
Especially when very young children are travelling alone in the back, you should not give them any toys or food as they may place them in their mouths and choke. You should remember that a toy left lying around in the car becomes a dangerous projectile in the event of a collision. Toys, telephones, keys, tablets, etc. are examples of dangerous projectiles. It costs nothing to make sure that they are not left lying around.
Continuing with the topic of objects left lying around in the car, you should carefully separate suitcases, bicycles and anything else in the compartment. You should also take extra care when travelling with pets. Pets should travel in special carriers adapted for them, which remain completely still during the journey.
If you need extra space in your car, you can rely on RiveMove to provide the perfect solution.
Travelling in a motor home with children
Motor homes are not specially designed with children in mind which is why many of them do not include isofix anchor points or a top tether and it is not possible to install a CRS with a support leg.
Child safety in motor homes is the subject of just two serious studies: Sweden in 2019 Vti (https://youtu.be/JuNOarORALM) and Germany in 2020 ADAC (https://youtu.be/tooRiJHt210). Various conclusions can be drawn from the two studies: The level of child and overall safety is not comparable with the safety level afforded by a passenger car. Both studies assess different kinds of CRS when they are placed in rear and front-facing seats. The structure of the rear seat base in some motor homes is made from melanin and, in one collision, the seat was completely destroyed.
The most important aspect of child and overall safety in motor homes is the issue of objects left lying around. During the studies, several items become detached in the motor homes on impact and there were items literally flying all over the place within the compartment. It is absolutely essential to ensure that every item is in a completely and utterly secure position when travelling in a motor home.
Child safety depends on the purchase of a CRS. However, other actions, which cost you absolutely nothing, are also required to guarantee the effective protection of children.