Children must be better protected

Jul 2016

Accidents

Viewed over the long term, data released by the Federal Statistical Office of Germany show that, thankfully, fewer and fewer children are losing their lives on the roads. While in the 1950s more than 1,000 child fatalities per year were recorded in Germany, this figure fell in the 1990s to less than 500 and was in 2014, for the fifth time, less than 100. In 2014, a total of 28,674 children were involved in accidents on Germany’s roads – of these, 71 children died, 13 more than in the previous year. More than 10,765 children were involved in accidents as car passengers, with 26 of these losing their lives. One of the reasons is that they are not properly secured in the vehicle – whether because the person responsible for the child does not have enough time, is lazy or simply does not know how to properly use the securing system.

Particularly careless and negligent is anyone who puts their child on the front passenger’s lap with no protection whatsoever. In a crash, the front passenger would be flung forward, resulting in acute danger to life for the child, even at low speeds, with severe crushing of vital organs. If a child is wearing very thick clothing, there is a risk that the restraint does not lie tightly enough across their body. In a critical situation, the child could strike the headliner, potentially resulting in serious injuries such as compression of the spine.

Also, one of the most common mistakes is when the child is not properly restrained in their seat or the seat is the wrong size. This is particularly hazardous in smaller vehicles in which the distance between the rear and front seat is relatively small. In a collision, the child could potentially suffer severe flexion injuries and overextension of the cervical spine, resulting in permanent nerve damage. If the child’s head strikes the front seat, this could in the worst-case scenario result in a traumatic brain injury. If the child turns around and out of the diagonal restraint in a crash, the entire restraint system is loose and then even the lap restraint will no longer be effective. If the child manages to turn around and out of the shoulder restraint even during normal driving, the shoulder restraint behind the child’s back may be pulled tight by the retarder. In this case, only the lap restraint provides any security.

For this reason, the advice is simply to ensure that the seat is suitable for the weight, size and age of the child. Ideally, let your child test the seat first before you buy. Since more and more cars are equipped with the standardized Isofix child safety seat attachments, it is advisable to use a compatible child seat compliant with ECE 44-03 or ECE 44-04.

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