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New child seat rules to keep kids rear-facing for longer

Tristan Honeywill

The UN’s Economic Commission for Europe plans to introduce new regulations next year that will require children to remain in rearward facing seats until they are 15 months old. Regulations currently say that you must keep the child rear-facing until nine months.

The changes should mean fewer serious neck injuries for children involved in collisions. There will also be a new side-impact test that will lead to better protection of young children’s heads. At the moment, this is no requirement to test this at all.

child-crash-test-dummyAt the same time there will be changes to the way seats are classified, using the stature instead of the weight of the child. The “i-Size” has been found to be better at ensuring protection. Child seat designs will also have to incorporate a supporting leg to secure the seat to the vehicle more tightly.

Parents will welcome the progress, but might be surprised that the tests will continue to focus on head and chest acceleration measurements, not the forces acting on the child’s neck. Everybody knows that children have heavy heads and weak necks that need proper support.

The tests will log the neck forces from the dummies for “monitoring purposes only”: a review of this has been promised by 2016. Is really that soon enough?

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