We’re a step closer to making poorly-fitted car seats a thing of the past after a new Europe-wide regulation called i-Size was introduced.
Which? child car seat expert Victoria Pearson says: ‘The new i-Size regulation sets out a vision for a future in which all child car seats will fit in all cars, which isn’t the case right now.
‘This will help to remove an existing problem for child safety – that installing car seats badly reduces their effectiveness in a crash.’
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Making car seats safer
All car seats have to pass a series of rigorous tests before they can be sold in the UK, and i-Size is the new European standard for child car seats.
From 9 July 2013 the first phase of i-Size will run alongside the existing regulation, ECE R44/04.
Both regulations set out the minimum standards for design, durability and crash safety of a child car seat.
More demanding car seat expectations
i-Size is more demanding than ECE R44/04 and should ultimately lead to child car seats that are easier to install and offer better protection in a crash.
The fine details of i-Size are still being ironed out, but one of the key ideas is that cars and car seats will be designed to fit together better, so that i-Size child car seats will automatically fit in new i-Size cars properly.
The key principles of the first phase are:
- i-Size seats keep the child rearward facing for longer – until the child is at least 15 months old. This offers greater protection for the child’s head, neck and vital organs.
- i-Size is based on the child’s height, rather than their weight, which makes it easier for adults to know they are using the correct seat for the child they are carrying. This is because height is more directly linked to physical development.
- i-Size seats will fit into ISOFix points, reducing the chance of fitting it wrong in the car. In the future, i-Size car seats will fit all ‘i-Size ready’ vehicles.
- i-Size seats will be tested more rigourously before they go on sale. A new side impact crash, like the one already used in the Which? child car seat test, will lead to seats providing better protection of the child’s head, especially for younger children.
- i-Size seats for young babies will also offer a significant improvement in protection for the head and neck.
i-Size seats on the way
Manufacturers are not able to test their car seats to show that they comply with i-Size until after the 9th July 2013, so it will take a few months for new i-Size seats to hit the market.
It will still be possible to use existing child car seats until ECE R44/04 is phased out, which is not expected to happen until 2018.