Misuse of Child Restraint Systems in Cars

Important advances have been made on children's transport safety in the last years (e.g. easier and more comfortable usage of child restraint systems (CRS), higher security standards of CRS, homogeneous European rules like ECE-R44). Furthermore, the compulsory use of safety seats in Germany since 1993 has considerably increased the rate of children secured by CRS or by seat belts. At the same time, however, a great number of CRS (about 60%) has been persistently misused. Misuse impairs the protective capability of CRS and therefore can drastically reduce their protective performance. In order to deepen the understanding of the misuse problem the objective of a recently finished BASt-project (Fastenmeier & Lehnig, 2006) was to develop a taxonomy of misuse-causes and misuse-prone circumstances based both on field-observations and inquiries in traffic reality (n=350 children) and on structured in-depth interviews with users of CRS.

Results of the field observations (n = 350 children) prove with 64,7% incorrectly used seats a similar rate of misuse as recorded in previous studies. 31,2% of all misuse causing errors happen when CRS are installed/fitted into the cars, and 68,8% of these errors take place when children are secured in their seats. Interviews with 161 adults who incorrectly used security seats indicate three major problems: instructions and manuals have little or no influence on the usage of CRS, the kind and quality of information the users get before buying a CRS is often inadequate, and finally, deficiencies of knowledge and information on part of the users. A subgroup which revealed special problems in correctly handling CRS were foreign parents living in Germany.

The presentation will give a comprehensive view on the main results of the empirical surveys. Moreover, conclusions are drawn of how to implement effective information measures which are based on adequate and target group related address forms. Finally recommendations for the improvement of child safety in cars are developed.

In: Fastenmeier, W. & Lehnig, U. (2006). Misuse of Child Restraint Systems in Cars. 4th International Conference “Protection of children in cars”, 7.-8.12.2006, München: TÜV Süd Akademie.

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