As guests of the leading company in the field of child seats, BeSafe, we met in Linköping, Sweden, at the premises of VTI (Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute), for a different and extremely interesting presentation.
Text: Manolis Salouros / Photos: BeSafe, VTI, M. Sal.
We are used to traveling to the Scandinavian countries for presentations of new models, winter (mainly) tires, driving on ice but also for racing WRC. This time the menu was very different, but also extremely interesting, as well as anything that has to do with the safety of the absolute treasures of every family, the children.
So the invitation that reached the magazine from Mr. Giorgos Refene, owner of EPKO International AEwhich has represented the leading Norwegian child seat company since 2009, BeSafe, for Greece and Cyprus, filled us with creative anxiety. We put on our warm clothes early and left for to Linköping, known for its university and its high-tech industry, where we learned a lot about child seats, while experiencing, among other things, a crash testnamely the brand new BeSafe Stretch, which is inverted up to the age of seven.
Child seats: Let’s start things from the beginning
Have we realized how important the “child seat” issue is in the car? According to statistics, every day in the European Union one child is killed on the roads, more than eighteen children are seriously injured, while in the last decade 6,000 children have been killed in road accidents in the EU. In Greece 140. The effects on families and their societies they are incalculable. The differences between countries are very large, with Greece being in the average, with seven dead children per million child population. However, it has shown a marked decline over the decade 2011-2019 in seriously injured children, with an average decrease of 14% each year.
The leading role in all this is played by the child seat, where the child should sit from the first day he leaves the maternity ward and will be transported in a vehicle, and until the age of twelve or the height of 150 cm. There are several ways to categorize seats. Note here that based on the latest safety standard ECE UN R129 (s.s.: R44 the previous one), the child’s height comes into the foreground. Standard height limits for children’s seats are now 75, 105 and 150 cm, while BeSafe specifically, for the convenience of parents, divides the seats into three categories: infant, toddler and child.
What sets her apart BeSafe within the years is its policy-strategy in favor of inverted seats, beyond the twelve months, which is anyway mandatory. This, on the grounds that in a frontal impact, in a forward-facing child, the belt restrains the torso, but the head, arms and legs are violently pushed forward. The neck is called upon to support the proportionally heavy head and the risk of serious spinal injury or even death is great. Conversely, in an inverted seat, the back of the seat acts as a protective shield and the pressure does not focus on the neck, but is distributed equally to the head, neck and back. Research into real accidents has shown that the chances of death or serious injury in forward-facing seats are 40%, compared to 8% in rear-facing, figures that have led us to say that it is five times safer for a child to sit in a rear-facing seat.
Read also: Everything about child seats
But how long should the child sit in an inverted seat? The answer is simple, according to the people at BeSafe: As long as possible. Now, the Norwegian company has a seat that can hold a child upside down for up to seven years. “It is good that the parents do not consider it an achievement for the child to turn forward. Let them exhaust the limits of their inverted seat before turning it to face forward. Also, let them look from the period of birth to buy a child seat with as much use as possible in an inverted position.”
Child seats: In his shelters VTI
The VTIwhere we met that morning, is an internationally recognized Institute where the greatest innovations in child safety in the car began (Isofix, Extended Rear Facing etc.). It was founded on July 1, 1971 and in 1975 it moved from Stockholm to Linköping.
So as you understand, a visit there, and even for the first time, gathers a lot of journalistic interest, since it concerns the safety of the most precious thing in this life, our children, in the car. Real life experience to be inside her space VTIto hear the knowledgeable and passionate people of the Institute talk to you about the tests that take place there, old and modern cars, the latest generation of child seats, even the previous generation dummiescompared to the sensor-laden ones of our time.
At the event, his story was presented, among other things More Testthe strictest child seat test in the world, while we had the opportunity to experience one crash test child seat, specifically BeSafe Stretchwhich is inverted up to the age of seven, with its result being successful, since the seat and of course the dummy they emerged unscathed after a collision at a speed of just over 56 km/h.
In the features of the seat, the large legroom of up to 26 cm, and without the risk of exceeding the maximum weight limit of 36 kg, can keep the child rear-facing for the maximum possible time, since it is suitable from six months (61 million) to seven years (125 million).
The Stretch has a new and innovative aluminum exo frame and the construction is connected to the car’s belts and floor to withstand the forces of a frontal impact. The rigid spine of the seat shell transfers the child’s energy to the exo frame, keeping the child in a stable position in an impact.
The seat is fitted with a belt (without Isofix), making it possible to install in any car and any seat, giving you maximum flexibility. The bottom extendable straps and easy locking and tightening mechanism make it easy to install but also very stable.
With five reclining positions, a ten-position adjustable headrest and plenty of legroom for all ages, this seat offers exceptional comfort. The magnetic belt helpers make getting the child in and out of the seat a breeze, while the Two-Fit cushions to adapt to each child’s body make Stretch a seat that “grows” – so to speak – with your child.
Also worth mentioning is the fact that by using long-lasting materials and making changing parts much easier, BeSafe has extended the life of the seat to around fifteen years.
Child seats: Epilogue with Beyond and full of “baggage”
Leaving her cozy space VTIwe were given the opportunity to see the system up close Beyondwhich will be released in 2024 and is essentially a series of seats on a rotating base Isofixwhich can accommodate the infant seat with a child in an inverted position up to 125 cm high.
There is a lot of information, therefore, that we obtained from this mission, both in terms of the know-how that is hidden behind companies that specialize in the manufacture of children’s seats, such as BeSafeas well as for the very important role that institutes and organizations such as the Swedish VTI._ M. Sal.
Height: 61-125 cm >Max. Weight: 36 kg >Age: From 6 months to 7 years approximately >Installation: 3-point vehicle belt >Wear: Reverse Position >Standard: UN R129 (specific vehicle) >Seat weight: 11 kg >Features: Dynamic Force Absorber >Additional protection side impact SIP+ >Magnetic Belt Assistants >Two-Fit cushions