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 https://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.
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.
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
55g yet crash testing cannot measure loads as chest clip is placed level with arm pits of the dummy, level with the steel bolt
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):
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.
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
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
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.
*** 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
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 https://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).
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
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.
“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.”
Rear facing & forward facing seats that are designed to stop children getting their arms out of the harness.
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:
2.3.1. 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
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
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.”