Nearly 50 years of experience and constant technical innovation have enabled us to understand in minute detail what happens in different types of collisions. Based on our continually developing knowledge, a 5-point harness system is the only form of restraint we use on all of our Group 0+/1, 1 and Group 1/2 car seats – and we are increasingly finding ways to build extended 5-point harnessing into our Group 2 seats.
WHAT TYPES OF RESTRAINT SYSTEMS ARE AVAILABLE?
In Group 0 and 0+ children are generally restrained with a 3- or 5-point harness.
In Group 1 children are restrained either with the 5-point harness or the shield system (also referred to as safety cushion, impact shield, tray shield).
In Group 2 and 3 children are commonly restrained with an adult seat belt. However we are also working to champion extended 5-point harnessing for Group 2 so that children can benefit from the safety of 5-point harnesses for longer.
HOW DOES A 5-POINT HARNESS WORK IN A COLLISION?
A 5-point harness significantly decreases the forces a child experiences during a crash since the forces are diverted from the child along the harnessing to the five points of contact with the seat. When the child is decelerated by the harness, the cushioning occurs across a wide area and limits shoulder and hip movements, resulting in low stress to the spine and the forces being directed away from the parts of the body containing vital organs.
In case of a roll-over, side impact or an offset impact (where combined vertical, lateral and or oblique loading lateral forces can lead to ejection or submarining), the shoulder contact points and the crotch strap stop those risks and keep the child safely in the protecting seat shell.
In addition, the harness allows for adjustment to the child’s body and therefore offers a good and customised fit.
WHY DO WE USE A 5-POINT HARNESS?
In all 5-point harness seats, the straps come down over the shoulders and across the hips to fasten to the buckle that comes up between the legs. The harness sits closely against the bony parts of the pelvis (the crotch and hip straps) and across the shoulders and rib cage (the shoulder straps). When a child moves forward in the seat, as they would in a crash, the properly tightened harness is already "holding" the child and it effectively restrains them, spreading the crash forces out through the seat and the remaining forces across the strong bones of the body.
WHY ARE CHILD CAR SEATS WITH INTEGRATED HARNESS OFTEN MORE EXPENSIVE THAN CAR SEATS WITH SHIELD SYSTEMS?
Harnesses are complex to design. The visible part is only a small fraction of the total harnessing system, which comprises straps, tongues, crotch strap, attachment means to the shell and a key element: the buckle. Technology is needed to allow easy tightening and release of the harness, and the harness needs to be routed around the shell to allow connection at the right points for the load to be distributed whilst providing easy access to the parents securing their child in the seat. In addition, designing a shell which can properly withstand the forces the harness places on the upper shell, to effectively restrain the upper body, is technically advanced and costly.