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Answer to Parliamentary Question: Safety of children's car seats

Publication date: 20 May 2009

WRITTEN QUESTION by Luca Romagnoli (NI) to the Commission

Subject: Safety of children's car seats

Every year in Europe, 5 000 children die in car accidents because they have not been transported correctly. Data of a disturbing nature have emerged from a recent survey carried out by Automobile Club Europa on the quality of children's car seats and how they are used.

The greatest risk is from shocks to the side of the vehicle, which are commonest on urban roads and against which many of the seat types currently available afford little protection. The same survey also states that 40% of children in Europe are transported without seats and over 50% in incorrect fashion, in other words using non-approved equipment, not of the right size or not properly assembled.

Some parents justify not using seats on the grounds of their children's unwillingness to sit still, the redundant nature of the equipment or the fact that they are driving short distances. The negligence of certain parents is compounded by what is indeed the unsuitability of seats which, while complying with the norms, do not offer sufficient protection against lateral shocks and may also be difficult to put in place. In the case of seats with Isofix anchorage, apparently the safest since their bars are incorporated into the car seat proper, thus conferring stability on the child's seat, the anchorage system varies from one model of car to another, making it impossible fully to ensure children's safety on the road.

Is the Commission aware of these problems? What action does it intend to take?

Does the Commission not believe that, in addition to the approval requirements for individual children's seats, there is a need for a uniform system for anchoring them to the car seats proper for the different models of motor vehicle?

Answer given by Mr Verheugen on behalf of the Commission

 The Commission is aware of the important safety issues that need to be addressed to ensure that child restraint systems used in cars offer adequate protection in case of accident. In this respect, the attention of the Honourable Member is drawn to the Commission's answer to question H-0351/08 of 16 June 2008[1], which provided information on the envisaged actions to enhance the safety of child restraint systems in general and the protection against side impacts in particular.

The current review of Regulation N° 44 on child restraint systems by the United Nations Economic Committee for Europe, as referred to in the Commission reply to question H-0351/08, includes the development of performance criteria and testing methods to ensure that child restraint systems also provide sufficient protection against side impacts as well.

The need for a uniform anchoring system for child restraint systems is also addressed in the context of the review of United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Regulation No 44. Indeed, the development of performance criteria and testing methods for an Isofix integral "universal" child restraint system has been identified as a first priority, in which the interoperability with the vehicle will be addressed.



Source: European Parliament

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