Earlier I posted on the blog’s Facebook page a video that shows us a deep look into the world of car seat’s, testing and real life experiences. It talks about testing, and especially the sort that you read about in magazines, the “Best Buys”, the “Parents recommend” and so forth. These seats are, all most always, forward facing.
The reason is that a consumer test, which is what such testing is called, doesn’t look at a safety perspective alone, it takes things like; leg room, easy to install, can the child see out the window? What colour choices does the seat come in? Things that all though fun and in a small way “important”, is not as important as weather or not it’s the safest option, the best option in a collision, which is really what we are trying to safeguard against isn’t it.
The video is in German, and it is from the show:
ARD Ratgeber: Auto-Reise-Verkehr – Reboarder-Kindersitze
It aired on HD1 in Germany 25.11.2012.
Before you watch the video, I would just like to point out that it’s worth watching even if your German is really bad, because it’s just…all…just watch it I tell you. You won’t regret it. I’ll be putting a word for word English translation under the video.
Did you proceed the same way with your children or grandchildren? Read the car seat test first, and then buy the test winner? Or at least base your decision on it? I for my part did just that with my children and therefore always bought a front-facing car seat for them. These are typically recommended in the stores too. But – brace yourselves – we have done some research and found these tests to have a problem. Bottom line: Young children ride nowhere near as safe as one might think.
“We were coming home from the playgroup and got into a heavy downpour. We were going to stop the car but decided to keep going because it was only a short ride. When I had to slightly brake the vehicle it swerved right away and the car skidded over the green roadside verge against a wall. … They only realized it later in the hospital when Saya was whimpering so much. She did not show any reflexes below the navel.”
Ever since the accident 2009 Saya has been paraplegic. Back then she was one year old, just taking her first steps. The child was too large for the infant carrier in the car and the Hausers had bought a new child safety seat, one facing the front, just like most other parents. They had not anticipated that this car seat would lead to disaster for Saya.
“We were not aware oft the fact. We picked a child safety seat with good test results, let ourselves be led by the ADAC and several other recommendations.”
More often than not, child safety seats facing the front are recommended for children of Saya’s age. But exactly these can be life threatening for little children. The head is being thrown forward with extreme force, the spine strained. Older children’s muscle structures are strong enough to survive such a crash, for smaller children it can be fatal.
Since the head on smaller children is very heavy in relation to their body and since the neck muscles are still rather weak, the risk of getting their necks injured is especially high for children two years and younger.
Nancy Auweiler actively participates in a group of parents fighting for increased car safety. The youngest of her four children is exactly within the German risk group of children transported forward facing at a far too early age. That is the reason she bought a ‘Reboarder’, a child safety seat that is installed against the direction of traffic – this is safer, a fact many do not know.
“Well, I am oftentimes looked at in a funny way because my children are still being transported facing the rear and that is, well, sad actually, that this kind of information is not widely known. “
This kind of information for the main part comes from accident researchers in Scandinavia. In Sweden, rear-facing child restraint systems have been the norm for smaller children for years. Over there, not a single child in the past 10 years has been fatally injured in a rear-facing car seat. Unlike a regular child safety seat, the ‘Reboarder’ performs as a sort of protective shield. The body and especially the head are being caught by the seat system in the case of a frontal collision, the spine barely strained. The risk of heavy injuries is reduced by more than 90%.
By chance Nancy Auweiler had read of the safety benefits on the Internet. Nobody had recommended the seat system to her beforehand but rather advised her against it.
“I think this is largely due to the fact that it is unknown. That the parents have never heard of it and that many rely on what is being offered in the stores and how they are advised there.”
Do these safer seats really play no role in speciality stores? We conduct some hidden spot tests and accompany Nancy to specialized stores.
In this store, they do not have one single ‘Reboarder’. We inquire as to why.
“Rear-facing? That is only allowed in the baby carrier.” “So there are no ‘Reboarders’ for older children?” “Not that I know of. “
That is nonsense.
In another store, a ‘Reboarder’ is found on the shelf. It is not recommended to us.
“Well, a lot of people are put off. “ “Why is that?” “Well, the seats are so heavy. Then there is the difficulty of installing them. I have to admit that I haven’t touched this one in quite a while. “
It is a fact that rear-facing car seats are scarcely recommended by speciality stores because they are seldom asked for. The reason for this? They are more expensive. And, more importantly, they often only get mediocre results in tests because they are bulky and their installment is complicated. And in car safety seat tests, handling and safety are weighted equally. Safety advantages of rear-facing car seats disappear.
“There are surveys – or rather studies – rating misuse and the results regularly show that more than half the car safety seats for children are installed incorrectly or even extremely incorrectly. And that is why for us this is also very important in the testing.”
But with these criteria, ADAC and Stiftung Warentest do not do justice to the safety requirements for children up to two years of age, because their tests simply do not make clear that ‘Reboarders’ would be safer for this age group.
And what about the legislature? Why isn’t the rear-facing transportation of children under the age of two mandatory? We get as a written response: “In the future, the transportation of children up to 15 months of age against the driving direction is intended. The regulation will probably come into effect in the middle of 2013.”
One first step.
It would be better to regulate this for all children up to the age of at the least 24 months. And also, this regulation will only be applicable for new universal Isofix-systems such as this one. A ‘Reboarder’, for children even up to the age of four, deep-seated with the car body. Any fiddling with the seat belt is omitted. The seat is also revolvable, so it can be more easily loaded and the child correctly buckled up. Seats without Isofix are also supposed to be taken into the new regulation. When is not yet clear.
That is why parents still focus on self-initiative. One group has established an online non-profit ‘Reboard‘ association to throw light on positive experiences. Nancy Auweiler also belongs to this group. When she has the time, she addresses other parents, gives out flyers and does away with prejudices.
One can basically only persuade people with facts. Prove that it is indeed safer.
For Saya, these new regulations come way too late. She will have to live with her severe disability for the rest of her life. For her parents a lot has changed.
“Life with a quadriplegic child is so much more expensive than the most expensive ‘Reboarder’.”
Saya has to use a special car seat for her paraplegia. It is only available forward facing. That is why the Hausers bought this bus in which the whole car seat can be turned. Now, Saya also sits rear facing.
So, dear car seat manufacturers, please come out as quickly as possible with many more car safety seats that are rear facing and easily installed. And dear testers, maybe you could reassess your weightings after all – it would be sensible.
Quite an eye opener!
Before I head to bed, I just want to say to all my readers that I’m very sorry for not updating the blog and posting any content for a good while now, despite the fact that I have stated I would! I have just been so busy and my mind just haven’t been able to write. There should be more hours in a day right? hehe
I DO however have things coming up, I have done a whole of THREE new mystery shoppings, I also have a couple of new retailers to add to the list. People have been great at giving me some heads up there! So THANK you .
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