Since September 2006, the law says that parents must use an approved car seat for their child up to 1.35 metres in height. Approved car seats carry an orange ECE-R 44/04 label, which means they have been tested to the most recent and stringent European safety standard.
“i-Size” is the name of a new European safety regulation that affects car seats for children under 15 months of age. It came into effect in July 2013 and provides extra protection in several ways, most notably by providing rearward facing travel for children up to 15 months instead of 9 to 12 months, which the previous EU regulation advised.
The two standards will run side by side for the foreseeable future. The i-Size standard is exclusive to ISOFIX child seats. The “ECER44” standard remains a norm for seatbelt-fixed seats and ISOFIX seats. This is necessary to enable the owners of older cars (which do not have ISOFIX anchor points) to remain within the safety regulations without having to fit anchor points.
At this moment the EU is only encouraging a preference for ISOFIX-based seats. In the future we can expect that only ISOFIX-based seats will conform to the EU safety regulations.
This evolution is similar to that for adult seatbelts. Firstly, all new cars had to be manufactured with seatbelts. Only when these cars became the vast majority of those on the road, was it made law for passengers and drivers to wear seatbelts.
Why will it be easier for parents to choose and install the right car seat?
First i-Size is based on the age and size of the child rather than weight. This does reflect latest data and therefore current children’s need and also makes it easier for parents to choose the right car seat. Secondly it will be easy to
understand if the child seat is right for your car through universal approval and common labelling in the car and on the child seat.
Why will i-Size be safer?
i-Size car seats will demand ISOFIX and rearward facing travelling up to 15 months. Rearward facing travelling is the safest way to transport your child in the first months especially to prevent head and neck injuries. Above this age
you can use either a rear facing seat or a forward facing seat. ISOFIX heavily reduces incorrectly fitted car seats. It will also take into account side impacts.
How does that affect me?
As soon as i-Size approved car seats are on the market parents will have the possibility to choose between a seat that is approved in line with R44 or i-Size.
No obligation to upgrade
The i-Size regulation does not replace the older ECER44/04 regulation, so you do not need to upgrade your existing child car seat. If you currently use a rearward facing child car seat that is fixed to the car by the seat belt, you can continue. The introduction of i-Size simply means that you now have an extra option when buying a car seat for your baby/toddler – an option that complies to the new i-Size safety regulation.
Why do we need a new regulation?
Child safety has evolved but still many children are killed or injured in road traffic. One of the key reasons is that car seats are not used correctly or parents use a car seat that does not fit their child. i-Size will help to make it easier for parents to choose the right car seat for their child.
When will it become effective?
9th July 2013 is the first possible date for approvals for child car seat manufacturers. i-Size ready cars will be available end of 2013 with increased penetration in 2014. The current regulation, ECE R44 will continue in tandem until approximately 2018.