£7.5 million law suit for child slipping out of car seat harness settled out of court

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Melanie Roman, aged 2, was travelling in a Graco child seat when the vehicle was involved in a frontal collision, followed by a secondary impact (Source: www.justice.org, American Association for Justice). After the crash, the shoulder straps were found loose around Melanie’s arms. Evidently, she had unfastened the chest clip prior to the accident and had removed her arms, creating a lap belt (Watch simulation of 30mph impact: Child dummy in similar position with shoulders freed from harness).

Melanie suffered a spinal cord injury, resulting in paraplegia. She is now in a wheelchair and will require assistance for the rest of her life.

In the USA, the issue of children wriggling out of their harness has long been acknowledged and the solution until now, despite its many drawbacks and risks, has been the chest clip.

The Roman v Graco case, from the USA, centred on whether or not the chest clip could be unbuckled by a child as opposed to focusing on the design flaw inherent in the car seat harness set up when deployed in a child environment. The design flaw is highlighted by the ease with which children can slip their arms under the harness. The issue is the gap between the harness and the child’s body, just above the red release buckle. Car seat manufacturers have tried to work around this problem by simply attaching a secondary clip or buckle in the chest region, with the objective of holding the two shoulder harnesses together. The chest clip does not tackle the actual design flaw of the harness, but is merely a work around that also introduces additional risks (see http://5pointplus.com/no-wonder-chest-clips-on-car-seats-are-illegal/.

When designing a product, thought must be given to reasonable foreseeable use and potential type of user. Car seats are obviously used by children and “the unpredictable behaviour of children” (source: The General Product Safety Regulations 2005) should be considered as very important. The child’s ability to comprehend why they must not push their arms under the car seat harness, effectively releasing their shoulders from the car seat restraint needs to be taken in account too.

Since the development of the 5 point plus system, car seat manufacturers have a safe and effective solution to the problem of young children slipping their car seat harness. No longer should cases focus on the chest clip but on the design flaw itself and whether or not parents have used the seat as per user instructions.

It has been reported that the Roman v Graco case was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum(http://www.justice.org/cps/rde/xchg/justice/hs.xsl/15319.htm).

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Car seat escapees by car seat brand

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Contrary to being a minor problem, children wriggling out of their car seat harness is a common issue for parents and is not just a one off problem. The pie chart below analyses the responses to our survey.

We thought it would be interesting to share the results of our recent survey on which car seats do children wriggle out of their car seat harness. At first glance, both Britax and Maxi Cosi appear to be the worst offenders. In reality, however,  these figures merely reflect the market shares held by each of the brands. Therefore, Britax and Maxi Cosi have the largest share of problems because they also sell the most child seats.

The problem of children slipping their harness is simply an industry wide problem not specific to any one brand.

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Which Car Seat Best Buys

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Which?, the consumer focused watch dog, has just released (26th May 2011) its latest report on the best and worst car seats. There are some surprises with big name brands appearing as “Don’t Buys”. In one instance, Which? found a group 0+/1 seat that did so badly that they recommend you steer clear of it.

This year is the first time that Which? has also awarded a rear facing group 1 car seat as a best buy.

If you are thinking about buying a car seat then you should definitely read this report. However, if you already have a car seat I would certainly recommend reading their report too to make sure that you are not using one of the car seats classified as a “Don’t Buy” (there are 18 Don’t Buy recommendations)”.

Car seat brands reviewed include Bebe Confort, BeSafe, Brio, Britax, Chicco, Concord, Cosatto, Cybex, Graco, Hauck, I’Coo, Jane, Kiddy, Mamas & Papas, Maxi Cosi, Recaro, Safety 1st and Volvo

Which? car seat report

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4th best selling product in car seat category at boots.com

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5 point plus has achieved 4th best selling product in the car seat category (out of 292 products) at Boots behind Maxi Cosi and Mamas & Papas.

View current best sellers at boots.com

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No wonder chest clips on car seats are illegal!

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55g yet crash testing cannot measure loads as chest clip is placed level with arm pits of the dummy, level with the steel bolt

Example of a number of car seat mis-uses chest clip anatomy

Summary

    1. A child’s body is very fragile. Their rib cage is just soft cartilage and will not resist forces arising from the chest clip.
    Soft tissue is easily damaged (see image below):
  • Arteries
  • Heart
  • Lung tissue

In a car crash at just 30mph, a child will experience forces of up to 60g, This is huge and severe internal injury is very likely. See child on the right hand side of this video on our facebook page

Crash dummies cannot measure forces exerted by the chest clip (see below for detail of mannequin design)


It is a well known fact that children can easily get their arms out from the car seat harness, but the chest clip is not the solution.

These still shots of this two year old clearly show the issue with the standard five point harness. The 5 point plus shields these gaps to prevent children from using them to remove their shoulders

These still shots of this two year old clearly show the issue with the standard five point harness. The 5 point plus shields these gaps to prevent children from using them to remove their shoulders

What is the purpose of the chest clip?
The objective of the chest clip is to help prevent a child from getting their arms out of the harness and slipping the harness off their shoulders. Children push their hands under the harness, see image below for gap that children exploit.

Children expolit the gap between the gap between their torso and harness to leverage their way out of a car seat

Children expolit the gap between the gap between their torso and harness to leverage their way out of a car seat

The alternative safer solution is the 5 point plus harness that shields the gap that children exploit to push their arms under the harness. The 5 point plus has won the British Baby Products Association Innovation Award as well as the German Kind + Jugend innovation Award. The 5 point plus accessory is available here or you may buy a Cosatto car seat with the 5 point plus incorporated as standard.

twin packs
*** ANNOUNCEMENT ***Dorel (Maxi-Cosi / Bébé Confort) advised 4th April 2014:“We will recommend the 5-point plus accessory to parents that call us and ask for a solution for their child that is freeing himself from his harness. We will also integrate the 5-point plus accessory in our FAQ at the website.”“The evaluation is that the product works well, and that with this accessory it is quite impossible for children to get out of the 5-point harness.”Read full news story
*** END ***Cosatto launch range of seats with 5 point plus incorporated as standard March 2016 Find your nearest stockist

5pp integrated

Issues
Not only is the chest clip ineffective at making child seats child proof, the hard bulky object introduces additional risks to a toddler in the event of an accident. It does not matter where the chest clip is positioned, in the event of a collision, the chest clip will generate dangerous localised loads. A toddlers rib cage is not strong, just soft cartilage, and will not offer any protection (see below regarding design of crash dummies). The safer, more effective approach is discussed here http://5pointplus.com/about/how-does-it-work/. The 5 point plus is available as standard on car seats or as a retro-fit accessory (excl USA & Canada).

Joanna Culley BA(hons) MMAA RMIP MIMI www.medical-artist.com

 



Trauma risks to key organs and arteries

It stands to reason that having a hard bulky chest buckle on a child’s car seat is a significant factor in causing either thoracic or abdominal trauma in the event of an accident. For more information on viscous injury risks please read Viano’s and King’s Biomechanics of Chest and Abdomen Impact research paper

A toddler’s rib cage has not yet ossified and any trauma from a crash will penetrate through to the organs and arteries and not be dissipated around the rib cage.

A child’s chest experiences forces of up to 60g in the event of a collision at just 30mph. The chest buckle may not break on impact creating a hard surface that can exert considerable force to a child’s internal organs.

Internal injuries are not easily identified in young children and hospitals are very reluctant to carry out CT Scans due to radiation risks to young children.

Latest Q3 Crash Dummy Cannot Measure Dangers of Chest Clip to Arteries & Organs

Image of Q3 dummy. A steel bolt is located level with the axilla, preventing measurement of loads of chest clip when positioned here

A chest clip positioned where the sensor is would be considered a misuse! Yet the bolt prevents true injuries from being identified

The chest clip is found on child car seats sold in North America, but in Europe it is illegal and cannot be fitted to child car seats.


Car seat manufacturers are failing children and parents by not designing child proof car seats.

The simple action of a child undoing his chest clip and getting their arms out of the harness renders the car seat useless, and also increases driver distraction & accidents.

The issue of toddlers getting their arms out of the harness is solved by shielding the gap under the harness that toddlers push their arms through and not the chest clip

Keep up to date with our news and like our facebook page.

Find out how the “5 point plus” works and helps prevents the problem in the first place!

5pp integrated

*** ANNOUNCEMENT ***
Dorel (Maxi-Cosi / Bébé Confort) advised 4th April 2014:

“We will recommend the 5-point plus accessory to parents that call us and ask for a solution for their child that is freeing himself from his harness. We will also integrate the 5-point plus accessory in our FAQ at the website.”

“The evaluation is that the product works well, and that with this accessory it is quite impossible for children to get out of the 5-point harness.”

Read full news story
*** END ***


Rear facing & forward facing seats that are designed to stop children getting their arms out of the harness.

Rear facing & forward facing seats that are designed to stop children getting their arms out of the harness.

The jury was unanimous: “The 5 Point Plus belt provides much improved safety for a child in a safety-seat.”bpa winner logo

Parents are often asking why isn’t the chest clip available in Europe?

Here are some of the reasons explaining why the chest clip is a flawed solution to the common problem of kids removing their shoulders from the harness:

  • The harness chest clip can break and pose a laceration and choking hazard (product recalls in 2010)
  • Risk of damaging wind pipe if clip is too high
  • If chest clip is too low, then there is a high risk of damaging internal organs. In the USA (January 2011), a child suffered a punctured lung due to a chest clip breaking the child’s rib

Crash tests using P series Dummies cannot detect the impact of chest clips on a child’s ribs as the legislation states that the manikins are constructed as follows:

2.3. Chest
2.3.1. The skeleton of the chest consists of a tubular steel frame on which the arm
joints are mounted. The spine consists of a steel cable with four threaded
terminals.
2.3.2. The skeleton is coated with polyurethane. Measuring equipment can be housed
in the chest cavity. 

The measuring equipment that is housed in the chest is an accelerometer to monitor the forces experienced by the manikin during crash testing and not for measuring the forces exerted by the chest clip

  • Children often unbuckle the chest clip, making it ineffective (Research from Yale University confirmed this)
  • Children can easily move the clip upwards / downwards, making it ineffective and potentially dangerous
  • There have been instances in the USA where calluses can form when the chest clip rubs against the child’s chest bones, particularly those that are protruding
  • It has been known for parents to buckle the chest clip only, leaving the main buckle undone
  • Chest clip is an extra buckle to unfasten in the event of an emergency

The chest clip does not resolve the design flaw inherent in the car seat harness when used in a child environment, it is simply one approach with many problems to remedy the issue.

No wonder the chest clip is illegal within Europe!!!

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Listen to Radio 2 interview

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Last week (Friday, 25th March) I was lucky enough to be interviewed on Simon Mayo’s radio 2 drive time programme. 

Listen to Radio 2 interview on 5 point plus

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Where you can see & buy the 5 point plus

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The 5 point plus is available from boots.com or Boots stores in the following towns and cities:

England

 Ashford 
 Basingstoke 
 Bedford Interchange RP
 Birmingham Fort Dunlop 
 Blackpool 
 Bolton Middlebrook RP
 Boston 
 Bournemouth 
 Bristol 
 Bromley 
 Bury St Edmunds 
 Cambridge 
 Chatham 
 Coventry 
 Crawley 
 Crayford 
 Croydon 
 Dartford 
 Dartford Bluewater Park 
 Derby 
 Doncaster 
 Dudley Merry Hill Centre
 Eastbourne 
 Enfield 
 Epsom 
 Fareham 
 Folkestone 
 Gloucester 
 Great Yarmouth 
 Hanley 
 Hull 
 Ilford 
 Ipswich 
 Leeds 
 Leicester 
 Lincoln 
 Liverpool 
 London – Beckton 
 London – Colliers Wood 
 London – Colney 
 London – Sedley Place
 Lowestoft 
 Luton 
 Maidenhead 
 Manchester Fort 
 Manchester Market Street
 Manchester Trafford Ctr 
 Mansfield 
 Middlesbrough 
 Milton Keynes 
 Newbury 
 Newcastle Upon Tyne 
 Northampton 
 Norwich 
 Nottingham 
 Peterborough 
 Poole 
 Portsmouth 
 Preston 
 Reading 
 Rochdale 
 Rotherham 
 Sheffield Meadowhall SC
 Slough 
 Stratford Upon Avon 
 Swindon 
 Taunton 
 Warrington Golden Square
 Wednesbury Gallagher RP
 West Thurrock 
 Westwood Cross 
 Windsor Peascod St 
 Worthing 
 Wyvern Retail Park 
 Yeovil 

Scotland

 Dumfries 
 Dundee 
 East Kilbride 
 Edinburgh Gyle Centre 
 Falkirk 
 Glasgow 
 Hamilton 
 Inverness 
 Irvine 
 Kirkcaldy 
 Perth 

Wales

 Cardiff
 Swansea

Republic of Ireland

 Dublin Jervis SC 
 Dublin Liffey Valley 
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Fixed penalty points or fine?

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In addition to the serious risk to your child’s health, you too can be exposed to the law…

A mother was fined £60 for her 3 year old son having moved one of his arms out the seatbelt harness, he was not properly restrained.

Read forum thread here

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Featured in Nursery Today November Edition

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I am pleased to say that the 5 Point Plus is featured twice in the leading trade magazine Nursery Today – see pages 19 and 51.

Here is an extract from Colin Pattison’s column “Innovations from the Autumn fairs” on pages 50 – 51.

“Richard Knight has addressed the constant problem of children slipping out of the shoulder straps of a five point Child retraint harness, once they have been fitted into them. His 5 Point Plus comfortably holds the five point harness in the correct position.”

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Featured in IP Review

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“Richard approached Withers & Rogers in July 2007,
explaining that he had found an elegant, yet easy to
copy, solution to the problem of children removing
their arms from their harness on a car seat. “


The 5 point plus is featured in Withers & Rogers Client magazine along with other important intellectual property news covering:

1. Trade marks and the Olympic Games

2. New procedures to enforce IP rights

3. How Germany is using patents to ensure goals in the world of football

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