List of questions

Until what age should children use safety seats?
Can small children wear only seat belts on a temporary basis? Do children always require a safety seat when travelling in a car?
Why is the height limit in Finland 135 cm, while elsewhere in Europe the limit can be as tall as 150 cm?
Can I use a seat that has been involved in a crash?
How long is the safety seat’s service life?
Why is a rearward-facing safety seat the safest option for a toddler?
Can I use second-hand safety seats?
How can I know if a safety seat bought in Finland is safe?
How can I recycle safety seats?
Do children’s winter clothes, padded outdoor clothes, etc. affect travel safety?
What does i-Size mean?
Are safety seat tests credible? Are any safety seat tests conducted in Finland?
How will the new Road Traffic Act affect the transportation of children?
My two-year-old child weighs 17 kg and the safety seat is too small for them. What kind of a seat should I acquire next?
What is a Plus test and what are its advantages?.

 

Until what age should children use safety seats?

According to the Road Traffic Act, children who are shorter than 135 cm must use appropriate restraint systems. The development of a child varies between individuals, but in most cases, children are usually already attending primary school when they reach the height of 135 cm.

The recommendation is that children shorter than 140 cm should not ride in the front seat if the seat is equipped with air bags. Please refer to the car’s manual to see the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding the transportation of children.

Can small children wear only seat belts on a temporary basis? Do children always require a safety seat when travelling in a car?

Children shorter than 135 cm must be placed in child safety seat when travelling in a car. Children under the age of three should not travel in a car, van or lorry, excluding cabs, in which you cannot attach a weight-based safety device.

When travelling on a bus, children should use a seat belt or child-restraint system fitted to the seat.

According to the law, if a safety seat cannot be installed in a vehicle, children older than three years are allowed to travel short distances in the back seat wearing only a seat belt, if the need for transport is occasional or sudden and safety seats cannot be used in the vehicle.

In most cases, rides given by grandparents cannot be considered occasional transportation as defined in the law, for example. Children are not allowed to be seated on anyone’s lap during transportation.

Why is the height limit in Finland 135 cm, while elsewhere in Europe the limit can be as tall as 150 cm?

The Finnish height limit of 135 cm is based on the EU Directive 2003/20/EC, also known as the seat belt directive, which was adopted on 8 April 2003. The directive extended the application of the compulsory use of safety belts to include all vehicles and restricted the regulations of transporting children in a car.

The directive states that children under 150 cm should use child-restraint systems when travelling in cars, vans and lorries. However, the directive allows member states to apply the 135 cm limit in their area, which is the limit used in Finland. Due to these national exceptions, the conditions regarding the use of restraint systems are not the same throughout the European Community.

If a child is able to sit in a high back booster seat, it can be used until the child reaches the height of 150 cm.

Can I use a seat that has been involved in a crash?

It is recommended to replace the seat with a new one if it has been involved in a crash or sustained damage. Crashes may cause invisible damage to a seat, which is impossible to assess. Please refer to the seat manufacturer’s instructions on how to act in case of a crash. The base of the seat must also be replaced with a new one after a crash.

Replacing the seat may be unnecessary if the damage in question is a slight knock at a car park, for example, and the force of impact is not high. If you are unsure about the usability of the seat, you should replace the seat with a new one.

In most cases, insurance covers safety seats. Please check your insurance company’s view on safety seats and the related indemnity clauses in advance.

How long is the safety seat’s service life?

Unless stated otherwise by the manufacturer, the maximum service life of an intact seat that has not been involved in a crash is approximately seven years.

Correspondingly, the recommended service life of the base is approximately seven years. The service life begins on the seat’s date of manufacture, not on the date of purchase. The year and week of manufacture are marked on most seats’ frames.

Why is a rearward-facing safety seat the safest option for a toddler?

The basic premise is that the safest way to transport a child is to seat them facing the rear for as long as possible, but at least until the child is three years old. A small child’s head is heavy in relation to the body and the child’s neck muscles and ligaments have yet to fully develop. Rearward-facing seats support the child’s head and neck in a head-on collision. Less strain is directed at the child’s head, neck and spine.

The head of a one-year-old child weighs approximately 2.2 kg. If the child weighs 9 kg, the weight of the head is approximately 25% of the total weight of the child’s body. The head of a three-year-old child weighs approximately 2.7 kg. If the child weighs 15 kg, the weight of the head is approximately 18% of the total weight of the child’s body. The head of an adult weighs approximately 4.5 kg. If the adult weighs 75 kg, the weight of the head is approximately 6% of the total weight of the adult’s body. Figure: Kaisa Tanskanen/Finnish Road Safety Council

Sitting with knees bent is not a safety risk and children generally do not mind sitting in such a position. The manual of the seat should indicate when to replace the seat with larger one.

When acquiring a rearward facing seat, favour seats that the child can use safely for as long as possible.

Can I use second-hand safety seats?

More than one child of a family can use the same seat if the service life of the seat allows this. Second-hand safety seats with unknown backgrounds are not necessarily safe.

It is impossible to know whether the seat has been involved in an accident (even if there are no exterior signs of damage) or if there are missing parts, labels or instructions.

How can I know if a safety seat bought in Finland is safe?

All safety seats sold in Finland (or inside the EU) are E approved: they meet the minimum safety requirements in accordance with EU regulations. The approval does not indicate which seat is the safest, but simply indicates that the seat meets the minimum requirements.

The safest safety seat is a correctly fitted seat that is appropriate for the child and the car. It is a good idea to take your car with you when you go shopping for a safety seat. Qualified salespersons will provide assistance with selecting and fitting the seat appropriately.

If you decide to purchase the seat online, you should be aware of what you are purchasing. Is the seat approved by the EU and is it really appropriate for your car?

The fastening systems of seats sold on foreign online stores, in particular, can be very different and the quality of the seats can vary a lot.

How can I recycle safety seats?

It is recommended to take the seat to a recycling station (Sortti recycling station or a similar station).

Do children’s winter clothes, padded outdoor clothes, etc. affect travel safety?

It is safer for children to sit in the safety seat without any heavy padded clothing. The belts should be fastened relatively tight around the child, which is why lighter clothing should be preferred.

If the car is pre-heated and heating used during transportation, it is safe to assume that light clothing is a more comfortable option for the child.

What does i-Size mean?

The safety requirements of children’s safety seats have been defined according to the UNECE Regulation ECE R44/04 since 1995. New seats are approved according to ECE R129, which took effect in the summer of 2013.

iSize is a harmonisation system subject to the ECE R129 regulation. Its purpose is to ensure that a seat is suitable for a car. Not all seats approved according to the ECE R129 regulation are automatically iSize seats.

iSize safety seats have the following requirements:

  • Isofix attachment system
  • support leg in rear-facing seats; upper belt section in front-facing seats
  • specific maximum dimensions to ensure the seat fits all iSize cars
  • iSize approval.

i-Size cars are required to have an Isofix attachment system, a counterpart for the upper belt section, a reinforced base structure and an i-Size approval. Not many i-Size cars are currently available.

All i-Size seats fit all i-Size cars. If your car has an Isofix attachment system but it is not an i-Size car, please check if your car is mentioned on the list of i-Size seat-approved vehicles available on the safety seat manufacturer’s website.

i-Size seats cannot be used in cars that do not have an Isofix attachment system.

Are safety seat tests credible? Are any safety seat tests conducted in Finland?

When studying the results of safety tests, it is advisable to verify what functions have been tested and what aspects are included in the overall score. Crash safety is only one category in safety tests. For example, the test conducted by the German ADAC, results of which are released in Finnish by the ATCF, tests multiple factors. Other factors include the ease of seat attachment and space requirements.

Example: Even though rearward-facing seats are the most recommended seats to be used after baby carriers, they may not do so well in the aforementioned categories. Comfort factors make the overall score lower and the test results look worse.

Safety seats are not tested in Finland. All safety seat tests published in Finnish in Finland are conducted abroad.

How will the new Road Traffic Act affect the transportation of children?

The new Road Traffic Act will enter into force on 1 June 2020. Until then, the currently valid Road Traffic Act must be followed.

The only amendment in the new Road Traffic Act regarding the transportation of children is concerned with taxis. Children under 3 must use a child-restraint system when travelling in a taxi. Children over 3 years old and under 135 cm can be transported in taxis in other seats than the front seat with seat belts.

As stated in the current act, the new act states that the transportation of children under 135 cm in a car, van or lorry will continue to require a safety seat approved in accordance with the UNECE regulation even after June 2020. The transportation of children under three years old in a vehicle without a safety system is never allowed.

As before, when travelling in a bus, children under 135 cm should use a seat belt or child-restraint system fitted to the seat.

My two-year-old child weighs 17 kg and the safety seat is too small for them. What kind of a seat should I acquire next?

Most rearwards-facing seats available in the market are approved for children under 18 kg, as the weight limit for using Isofix is 18 kg. There are also rearwards-facing seats that can be installed in place with the car’s seat belts that are approved for children up to 25 kg. These seats enable the safe transportation of a child for as long as possible. High back booster seats are intended for much older children, and they are not suitable for children under four.

What is a Plus test and what are its advantages?

The Plus test is an optional test developed for child safety seats released onto the Swedish market. Similar tests are not conducted elsewhere in Europe. Safety seats with an E approval meet the minimum criteria, but seats that have passed the Plus test provide children with better protection.

The Plus test measures the force exerted on the child’s neck in a head-on collision more precisely than any other test. Only rearwards-facing seats are included in the list of seats that have passed the Plus test. The tested seats are category 1 and 2 seats that are intended for children between 9 and 25 kg. The tests are conducted by the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI).

Seats that have passed the Plus test can be used on any seat of the car until the child’s weight reaches 18 or 25 kg. In order to pass the test and be approved for children up to 25 kg, the seat must be approved for use on any seat of the car by children up to 25 kg. Isofix seats can be used by children weighing up to 18 kg as the fastening systems of cars are approved for weights up to 18 kg. The seat may also be approved for use on the front seat by children up to 25 kg and on the back seat by children up to 18 kg. According to the Plus test, such seats are approved only for children up to 18 kg.

The Finnish Road Safety Council recommends using rearwards-facing seats that can be used until the child weighs 25 kg. This allows transporting the child in a rearwards-facing position for as long as possible.

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