Child Safety Seat Information
Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness and tether until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it’s time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.
Directive 2003/20/EC of the European Parliament and the Council has mandated the use of child-restraint systems in vehicles effective May 5, 2006. Children less than 135 centimetres (53 in) tall in vehicles must be restrained by an approved child restraint system suitable for the child's size. In practice, child restraint systems must be able to be fitted to the front, or other rows of seats. Children may not be transported using a rearward-facing child restraint system in a passenger seat protected by a front air bag, unless the air bag has been deactivated.
Special rules apply to children travelling in vehicles first registered (in New Zealand or elsewhere) before 1 November 1979 since these vehicles are not required to be fitted with seat belts on all seats.
Like motorcycle and race car helmets, child restraints are tested for use in just one crash event. This means that if the restraint is compromised in any way (with or without the child in it), owners are strongly suggested to replace it. This is due to the uncertainty with how a compromised child restraint will perform in subsequent crashes.
Lower anchors have weight limits set by the vehicle and car seat manufacturers. You can determine the lower anchor weight limit by checking the warning label or installation diagrams located on the side of the car seat. If your car seat does not have a label, you can determine the maximum allowable child weight for lower anchor use by subtracting the weight of the car seat (usually available in the car seat’s instruction manual) from 65 pounds.
The majority of seat belts have a locking mechanism that is activated when the seat belt is pulled all the way out from the retractor. This feature is designed for car seat installation. In instances when the locking feature activates, the child may not be able to free him or herself.
Along with the problem of instructions not being followed properly, there are other hazards that can affect children involving these safety seats. A recent study[clarification needed] attributed many cases of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) to the prolonged sitting or lying position these infants are in when putting the safety seats to use. When researchers reviewed more than 500 infant deaths, it was found that 17 of these deaths occurred while the infant was in a device such as a child safety seat. The age of the most occurring rates of death by SIDS in a child safety device was found to be under one month, having six of the 17 deaths happen in this age group. Although SIDS has been found to be a high risk regarding child safety seats, a coroner in Quebec also stated that “putting infants in car seats…causes breathing problems and should be discouraged." His warning came after the death of a two-month-old boy who was left to nap in a child safety seat positioned inside his crib rather than the crib itself. The death was linked to positional asphyxiation. This means that the child was in a position causing him to slowly lose his supply of oxygen. Coroner Jacques Robinson said it's common for a baby's head to slump forward while in a car seat that is not properly installed in a car and that can diminish a baby's ability to take in oxygen. "The car seat is for the car," he said. "It's not for a bed or sleeping." Robinson added, however, he has nothing against car seats when they are properly used. The coroner said that it is common for a baby’s head to “slump forward while in a car seat and that it diminishes oxygen”.