Car seat legislation is changing in 2017

As technology and society are constantly evolving, also car seat legislation changes in order to ensure safe products. Together with governments, consumer organizations and other industry partners, Bébé Confort has always been very involved in defining regulations for child car safety in Europe.

In 2017 the current European car seat legislation will change, with consequences for both the existing R44/04 and the more recent R129 (i-Size) legislation. 

Phase 2 of R129 - Summer 2017

R129 is the latest standard within European car seat legislation. Since the end of 2013 the first phase (out of three) of R129 – also called i-Size – is in place, covering car seats for children from birth up to 105 cm. As of the summer 2017 the second phase of R129 will be implemented.

This second phase of the legislation will have a major impact on car seats for children above 100 cm. Just like phase 1 of R129, the tests and criteria have improved significantly compared to R44/04 by using more precise dummies and adding side impact testing to the existing frontal impact tests.

Additionally, the classification of the car seats has changed from kilograms to centimeters. Often parents know better how tall their child is versus how heavy their child is, and therefore they are more likely to choose the correct car seat.

Another improvement of R129 over R44/04 is the better fitment in cars, thanks to agreements between car seat manufacturers and vehicle manufacturers.

On the use of ISOFIX anchorage points, there are no changes. Car seats for children from 100 to 150 cm can use ISOFIX anchorage points for installation, but this is not mandatory. 

When phase 2 of R129 will be in force (summer 2017) the existing R44/04 legislation for these products will not end, but both legislations will continue to exist side-by-side. As a result, consumers might choose to use the latest and highest standard for car seats in Europe. R129-02 will not allow booster car seats without backrest to be sold; all R129-02 booster-type car seats sold after the summer of 2017 must have a backrest.

Depending on the country, national legislation still defines if a child needs to be in a car seat until 135 or 150 cm – this is not going to change.

R44/04: No more booster cushions for children < 125 cm - January 2017

In the future children smaller than 125 cm will not be allowed in a car seat without backrest (booster cushion). As a first step towards this, the existing R44 legislation will change in January 2017 so that newly developed booster cushions without a backrest will only be allowed for children above 125 cm. Older car seat models allowing children smaller than 125 cm without backrest will still be available on the market, but for a limited time only.

This implies that all children below 125 cm should use a booster seat with backrest, for the sake of better protection.

Booster seats with a backrest ensure better belt routing across the shoulders and improved protection in case of side impact. This is a very important argument, as in-car safety devices (such as vehicle belts or curtain airbags) are often not developed for children smaller than 125 cm.

Bébé Confort truly believes that children above 15 kg, which is about 105 cm, are not sufficiently protected when using only a booster cushion. Therefore we strongly advise to use a booster seat with backrest up to at least 125 cm or 22 kg.

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