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The regulatory framework for child restraints and booster seats is complex and as it continues to evolve, creates confusion not only within the industry, but at consumer level too.
The Baby Products Association aims to educate and inform anyone with an interest in this field with a free seminar at the Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square, London on Thursday 6th October 2016. This event is open to both members and non-members and will provide concise information by a panel of experts. There will be a question and answer session following each presentation providing clarity and addressing the confusion that exists within the manufacturing, distribution, wholesale and retail industries.
Presently we have United Nations (UN) Regulation No. 129 on “Enhanced Child Restraint Systems” which came into force on 9th July 2013. The Regulation introduced the “i-Size” concept for child restraint to car compatibility, a stature-based system of classification (for child restraints), a new family of child dummies (the Q-Series) and a side impact test procedure. For the time being, the regulation applies only to integral ISOFIX child restraint systems. An integral child restraint is one in which the child is restrained by means of a harness or a shield that is coupled directly to the child seat and not by any means connected directly to the vehicle (such as a seat belt).
Regulators have recently prepared an amendment to UN Regulation No. 129 (referred to as ‘phase 2’) that will extend the Regulation to include booster seats. Although the amendment must pass through some further stages of voting, it seems likely that it will come into force during the middle of 2017. Discussions are also now underway to prepare a further amendment of the Regulation (referred to as ‘phase 3’) to include other types of child restraints, such as integral belt-attached child restraints, non-integral shields (where the shield is held in place by the vehicle seat belt) and booster cushions. These discussions are at the first stages and it is too early to say when the amendment might be ready and come into force.
The term “i-Size” or “i-Size Regulation” is often used with, or in place of, UN Regulation No. 129. An i-Size child restraint (whether it is integral ISOFIX, or later on, a booster seat) is one that is guaranteed to fit in any i-Size seating position in cars. However, it is also important to note that Regulation No. 129 also allows the approval of Specific Vehicle child restraints that may be supplied with a car fitting list. These child restraints feature all of the benefits of i-Size child restraints, but might be a bit larger and are therefore unable to fit in some cars or car seating positions.
UN Regulation No. 44 will remain in force throughout the development of UN Regulation No. 129 and perhaps beyond. All types of child restraints can still be approved to Regulation No. 44 and are fully legal to use. Regulation No. 129 features some improvements over Regulation No. 44, but child restraints that are approved to Regulation No. 44 are also very safe, when fitted and used correctly, and perform very well in real crashes. A proposal to amend Regulation No. 44 was recently agreed, which will prevent new type-approvals of integral ISOFIX child restraints from September 2017. This amendment must also pass through some further stages of voting, but is likely to come into force. Regulators made this proposal because Regulation No. 129 has been open to these child restraints for three years and they would like to encourage products in that direction; however, it will still be legal to sell and to use Regulation No. 44 products beyond 2017.
For more information, please save the date Thursday 6th October 2016 and pass this information on to industry colleagues who you feel would benefit from attending. The event will commence at 2.00pm and light refreshments will be available. Further information about how to register attendance will follow in due course.