Ben Boenk, CEO of Dutchkid and cofounder of Just Kidding, has been living in Dubai since 2005 and has long been a strong advocate for a law on child car seats.
With the introduction of the UAE’s new law for child seats coming into effect this month, we invited Ben on Behind the Wheel to tell us everything you need to know about choosing the right car seat for your child.
Why child seats?
An infant car seat is designed to protect your child in the event of a crash by forming a protective cocoon. New born seats are placed facing rearward so that a child will be pushed in to the seat on front-impact and the shell and inlay protect the spine and vital parts of the child. The higher sides next the child’s head form a ‘side impact protection system’ in the event of a side collision and avoid the child’s head to move too much. The seats belts retain the child during your trip and avoid that they get out. They also strap the child into the safest position and holds it there in the event of a rear or side impact, just like the seat belts for adults.
Since July 1st of this year the UAE adopted the “holistic seat belt law” which, amongst other things, entails that the use of an age and size appropriate carseat is mandatory for children up to 4 years of age. Experts advise that children use carseats up to the age of 4 and booster seats from 4 to 12 years of age.
Car Seat Groups
There are different categories of car seats suitable for different age ranges. Those that meet European safety regulations will have an E and 44.03/44.04 or .03/.04 on the orange label, meaning they meet European safety regulations as set by the United Nations. They’ll also show the group number, or weight range of child, for which it is designed. The new i-Size seats are slightly different, as explained below.
Weight ranges may vary from one manufacturer to another, but they tend to follow these guidelines:
- Group 0 and Group 0+: rear-facing infant carriers for children up to 10kg and up to 13kg respectively (from birth to nine or 12 or 18 (I size) months). Consensus is that it is advisable to keep infants rear facing as long as possible, ideally up to 18 months)
- Group 1: child seats for children 9kg to 18kg (about 9-12 months to four years).
- Group 2 and 3: Full booster seats and cushions for children from 15kg to 25kg (about three and half years to six years) and from 22kg and up to 36kg (about four years to 12 years). Many models in these groups can be modified to accommodate your child as he grows.
New models of boosters, like Mifold are so compact that they can fit in the schoolbag or in your glove-department! Very convenient for school runs and holidays!
What’s wrong with children using adult seat belts?
If your child uses an adult seatbelt before he is tall enough, the lap part of the belt sits too high on his stomach. In a crash this could damage his internal organs. There is also a risk of him slipping under the belt. Children should measure at least 145 cm before it is safe to use the adult seatbelts without a booster.
Specialized retailers are always happy to give expert advice on which seat is right for your child and to assist with installation. They regularly offer ‘carseat check-up days’ where you can have verified if your seat is still correctly installed and fit for its purpose.
Please also see these tips on RoadSafety UAE