Unsecured children face a seven times greater risk of injury in an accident than children protected by restraint systems. With this in mind, Mercedes-Benz continually strives to improve the protection of children in cars. Accident research and accident statistics show that children require special restraint systems on account of their anatomy. The customary automatic seat belt does not represent the ideal means of securing children in cars. Varying requirements apply, according to children’s age group, height and weight. Mercedes-Benz thus offers different child seats tailored to the physical characteristics which define the respective age groups.
As an entry-level model there is the BABY-SAFE plus infant seat, which is suitable for children in the 0+ weight group (0-13 kg/0 to approx. 15 months). The DUO plus model, available with or without ACSR, is suitable for infants belonging to weight group I (9-18 kg/approx. 8 months to 4 years). The KIDFIX child seat, also available with or without ACSR, is ideal for weight groups II and III (15-36 kg/age approx. three and a half to twelve).
Mercedes-Benz innovation: automatic child seat recognition (ACSR)
Automatic child seat recognition is a special safety feature from Mercedes-Benz. It was developed especially for rear-facing infant seats in which babies and infants weighing up to 13 kg (approx. 15 months) sit on the front passenger seat, facing opposite to the direction of travel. The advantage of fitting the seat in this manner is that the backrest of the child seat forms an extensive buffer zone which braces the entire upper part of the body and the head in a frontal collision. As a result, the head remains in its customary position in relation to the upper part of the body, thus reducing the strain on the neck. As the front passenger airbag has to be deactivated when fitting a rear-facing infant seat, Mercedes-Benz developed an automatic child seat recognition system more than ten years ago. This is a passive system which detects when a child seat is fitted to the front passenger seat and automatically deactivates the vehicle's front passenger airbag. This is particularly vital when an infant seat is fitted in rear-facing direction. An indicator lamp signals that the airbag is deactivated.
Integrated child seats
Another development from Mercedes-Benz is integrated child seats (IKS), a system which is permanently installed in the vehicle. IKS is optionally available for many model series. The child seats fold out of the rear bench seat at the touch of a button to provide safe and secure accommodation for two children aged 2 and above and weighing up to 36 kilograms (spanning the age group from roughly two to twelve). When the child seats are no longer required, they can simply be folded back into the rear bench seat.
In Mercedes-Benz vehicles, the occupant cell, seats, airbags and belts form a perfectly coordinated system. The child seat further enhances these safety functions, ensuring that youngsters are just as safe as adults in an accident. Mercedes-Benz child seats undergo the most rigorous laboratory and crash tests to verify their effectiveness. Beyond the mandatory tests according to stringent statutory regulations, the company also carries out its own tests, such as frontal impact at a speed of 64 km/h.
Child seats from Mercedes-Benz: the right system for every age group
Intelligent safety solutions
Children who are not secured correctly when a car is on the move are at extreme risk in the event of an accident. They are seven times more likely to be seriously injured or killed than children who are protected by appropriate restraint systems. In 2010, 49 children aged under 15 were killed in passenger cars involved in accidents in Germany and almost 10,000 were injured, according to information from the Federal Statistical Office. This represents a drop of around 50 percent in child fatalities in comparison to the beginning of the decade, while the number of children injured in passenger cars has fallen by around 30 percent over the same period.
A random check undertaken by the German ADAC automobile club in October 2011 revealed that around a third of children travelling in cars are still not secured correctly, however. Five percent of the children aged between six and twelve in the check were not even wearing a seat belt, while 20 percent were not sitting in a child seat appropriate to their age group. 28 percent of infants were not secured in the proper manner and three percent of those aged under 6 were travelling in vehicles without being secured in any manner whatsoever. In this spot sample the ADAC checked a total of 2325 children in 1569 vehicles outside schools and nurseries in eleven federal German states.
Only special seats afford optimum protection for small passengers
Another look at the relevant statistics confirms that the seat belt for adults does not represent the best means of securing children: the risk of injury in an accident stands at only eleven percent in a child seat, as compared to 25 percent when children are secured with a seat belt intended for adults.
This is attributable to children’s anatomy. Adults and children differ not only in terms of height and weight, but also with regard to physique and body proportions. The head of a new-born child accounts for around one quarter of its body weight, for example, while the corresponding figure for an adult is only around 18 percent. The bone structure also differs.
The logical consequence of these biological differences is that children require restraint systems which are tailored exactly to their special needs and their age, whereby different requirements apply among children according to age group, height and weight. Accordingly, Mercedes-Benz offers three removable child seats and one permanently installed system, ensuring the safety of children in all age groups. All the restraint systems meet Mercedes-Benz's high safety standards.
BABY-SAFE plus offers very young babies weighing up to 13 kilograms (approx. 15 months) optimum protection, an ideal fit and the best possible comfort thanks to snug padding in "DaimlerSquare" fabric design. The infant seat is fitted opposite to the direction of travel, in order to offer the best possible support for young babies' sensitive cervical vertebrae. In the event of a collision, the seat stays the child's entire body. This reduces localised stress substantially. High side bolsters and a particularly deep seat shell afford babies even better protection. In case of side impact, this entails major safety benefits.
The child is secured in the infant seat by means of an integrated 5-point belt. BABY-SAFE plus is attached to the vehicle using the three-point seat belt. The BABY-SAFE plus infant seat comes with the automatic child seat recognition (ACSR) as standard. When the infant seat is fixed to the front passenger seat of a vehicle which is also equipped with ACSR, the airbag electronics detect the fitted seat and deactivate the airbag on the front passenger side automatically. This is particularly important when child seats are fitted facing towards the rear. When the child seat is removed, the airbag is operational once again. The automatic child seat recognition system is not only convenient but also safe, as no buttons need to be pressed in order to deactivate the airbag. This also means there is no danger of forgetting to reactivate the front passenger airbag when the child seat is removed.
BABY-SAFE plus comes with a standard-fit sunroof which protects the young passengers from intensive sunlight.
The Mercedes-Benz child seat DUO plus is suitable for babies and young children weighing between nine and 18 kilograms (age range approx. 8 months to 4 years). DUO plus comes with ISOFIX as standard and is optionally available with automatic child seat recognition (ACSR). It is fitted in the direction of travel and can be attached either with the ISOFIX system or using a three-point seat belt. ISOFIX is an internationally standardised connection system between vehicle and child seat. DUO plus features two fastening hooks which are slotted into two metal eyelets between the seat surface and the vehicle seat backrest. DUO plus is additionally attached to the vehicle seat backrest by means of a so-called Top Tether in the upper area of the child seat. The child seat is then firmly connected to the vehicle's body. The vehicle's seat belt is not required when the child seat is attached with ISOFIX and Top Tether. ISOFIX and Top Tether anchor points are required by law in new vehicles in Europe and the USA. ISOFIX and Top Tether attach the forward-facing child restraint system to the vehicle more effectively than when the child seat is secured using the seat belt, and thus offer better protection.
The child is secured in the seat by means of a harness belt system (five-point belt). The belt height adjustment feature allows the seat to "grow" with its user. The padding on the shoulder belts is designed to limit forces acting on the particularly vulnerable areas of the head and neck. It effectively reduces the strain on the head and neck when the impact of an accident exceeds a certain severity. To keep youngsters not only safe but also comfortable, the backrest shell of the DUO plus seat incorporates a shift feature which enables the seat to be inclined in a position suitable for a sleeping child. DUO plus comes in the "Limited Black" fabric design. This hard-wearing seat cover is removable and washable.
The third model in Mercedes-Benz's child seat range goes by the name of KIDFIX. This seat is ideal for children weighing between 15 and 36 kg (age range approx. three and a half to twelve). Child and seat are secured using the vehicle's three-point seat belt. The raised seat position corrects the positioning of the belt passing over the pelvis and shoulders, adapting it to the child's anatomy. The belt guides at the sides ensure that the lap belt does not slip into the area of the child's abdomen. The KIDFIX seat can additionally be attached to the vehicle's ISOFIX anchorage points, whereby the child continues to be secured by the vehicle's seat belt. This has the advantage that the child seat is positioned correctly in the vehicle and, in particular, ensures that it does not fly around the interior and endanger the vehicle's occupants when it is unoccupied.
KIDFIX incorporates a height-adjustable backrest. Apart from its comfort aspect, this backrest also ensures that the Mercedes KIDFIX child seat can be used for children up to the age of twelve. KIDFIX additional features a sitting and sleeping position and additional lateral support for head and body in the form of pronounced side bolsters and side head restraints. In the event of side impact, this design ensures that the child is not shaken too severely from side to side.
The automatic child seat recognition system is optionally available for fitting KIDFIX on the front passenger seat. The child seat can also be used without the system, however. In this case, the front passenger seat is to be moved into its rearmost position. KIDFIX comes in the "Limited Black" fabric design. This hard-wearing seat cover is removable and washable.
Complete exchangeable covers in DaimlerSquare design are available for all child seat models. Replacement covers for the head and shoulder section of the DUO and for the head section of the KIDFIX come in flannel grey or chilli red. Replacement covers are available for all child seat models, either as exchangeable covers for the head section in flannel grey or chilli red or as complete exchangeable covers in "DaimlerSquare" design.
Integrated child seats (IKS)
The integrated child seats (IKS) form a system which is permanently installed in the vehicle, consisting of two child seats which fold out of the rear bench seat at the touch of a button to safely accommodate two children aged two and above and weighing up to 36 kilograms (age range approx. two to twelve). When the seats are no longer required, they can simply be folded away. The rear bench seat is then available for adults again. Integrated child seats are offered as optional extras for numerous model series.
Additional side head restraints from the Mercedes-Benz genuine accessories programme (IKS includes one side head restraint as standard) are recommendable for increased safety in the event of side impact. As the child is also able to rest its head to the side, these also provide for enhanced comfort. Integrated child seats can be upgraded with the separately available padded table into a safe restraint system for children aged 2 and above and weighing up to 18 kg (approx. 4 years of age). The padded table is secured by means of the vehicle's three-point seat belt and offers protection in a manner tailored specifically to small children's anatomy by providing a large surface area to brace the abdomen area.
Mercedes-Benz child seats at a glance:
As the growth process may vary greatly among children, the age ranges specified for the different child seat models represent only rough terms of reference. Different choices of seat may be appropriate in individual cases. In choosing a suitable seat, the child's weight should thus always be the decisive factor and the weight range of the current child seat should always be fully exhausted before moving up to the next model. A vitally important factor is that the child's head must never protrude beyond the backrest.
Legal requirements in the field of child safety
National and ECE regulations
Since 1 April 1993 it has been mandatory for children travelling in motor vehicles to be secured in child seats. Paragraph 21 (1a) of the German Road Traffic Ordinance stipulates the following in this connection: "Children up to the age of twelve who are shorter than 150 centimetres may only travel in motor vehicles in seats for which seat belts are mandatory if restraint devices are used for children which meet the requirements stipulated in Article 2 (1), letter c of directive 91/671/EEC of 16 December 1991 relating to the compulsory use of safety belts and the compulsory use of child restraint systems in motor vehicles (Official EC Journal no. L 373, p. 26), as amended by Article 1, no. 3 of directive 2003/20/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 8 April 2003 (Official EU Journal no. L 115, p. 63), and which are suitable for the child."
Supplementary note: Use is thus mandatory for children who are shorter than 150 centimetres or under twelve years of age. This means that a twelve year-old child of only 140 centimetres in height or a ten year-old child of 155 centimetres in height does not have to use a child seat, as compliance with one of the two criteria is sufficient. Mercedes-Benz nevertheless recommends the use of child seats up to a height of 1.50 m, even if the child is twelve or older.
The German legislature has imposed sanctions for contraventions of the mandatory obligation for children to be secured correctly in their seats, with fines ranging from € 30 (child only secured with adult seat belt) to € 50 and one penalty point on the driver's licence (several children not properly secured). Insurance companies also reserve the right to reduce compensation claims when child seats are not used or are used in an incorrect manner.
Officially approved child seats are identifiable by the orange-coloured ECE approval label which is obligatory on such seats. All the child seats in Mercedes-Benz's programme comply with the latest safety standard, which is indicated by an approval number beginning with "04". The label also specifies the weight range for which the child seat is suitable.
Since the amended version of Section 21 (1a) and (1b) of the German Road Traffic Ordinance entered into force on 1 March 2007, it has also been mandatory for children to travel in child seats on the rear seats of taxis. This obligation is restricted to a requirement for taxi drivers to provide child seats corresponding to ECE group I (mandatory) and II/III, however, with the possibility of accommodating one to two children. Parents themselves are required to provide infant seats for very small babies.
The applicable legal requirements for child seats in Europe are stipulated in ECE regulation no. 44, which classifies the use of child seats into different groups (see table). As stated above, the defined age groups serve only as general reference points and the child's weight should always be the principal guiding factor.
ECE classifications according to weight and age
The ECE regulation additionally classifies child seats according to different categories defining the possible use of the child seats in different vehicles:
ECE classification according to categories and form of use
All the specifications relating to possible use are provided on the orange ECE approval label which is mandatory on every child seat. Apart from the category and weight class, these specifications also include the licensing country and approval number. The letter "E" in a circle guarantees compliance with the applicable statutory ECE regulations; the number after the "E" indicates the country in which the child seat has been licensed.
Only child restraint systems approved in accordance with ECE 44/04 are now permitted for sale in Germany. Child seats with ECE 44/03 approval may still be used, however.
Strict regulations on child safety in Germany's neighbouring countries, too
Germany's neighbouring countries in Europe have regulations in place on children travelling in motor vehicles which are similar to those in Germany. Since 1 April 2010 a child seat has also been compulsory in Switzerland for children aged under 12 and up to a height of 150 cm.
Depending on the child's weight, the use of an infant seat, a child seat or a special seat cushion is required. In Austria, all children who are below 150 cm in height and under 14 years of age must be secured with a child restraint system or a child booster seat. Children who reach a height of 150 cm prior to their 14th birthday only require to be secured with a corresponding seat belt.
Since 1 January 2001 it has additionally been illegal to sell child car seats in Austria which do not comply with version 03 of the ECE 44 safety standard (ECE 44/03) at least. Anyone selling child seats which do not meet the required safety standards (including private individuals) faces hefty fines.
Credits: Daimler AG
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