The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) is currently composed of 56 countries, which exchange information and cooperate on economic and sectoral matters under the aegis of the United Nations.
Amongst the many programs of the UNECE, Maxi-Cosi follows closely the work of the GRSP ("Working Party on Passive Safety" (WPPS)), a group composed of more than 70 experts representing primarily the different European States, working on improving passive safety requirements in vehicles. For example, the GRSP has developed the ECE Regulations nos. 44 and 129, the latter introducing "i-Size" and corresponding improved requirements in the field of safety.
Within the framework of its work, the GRSP has recently published a study on car seats with shield system (http://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/trans/doc/2014/wp29grsp/GRSP-55-39e.pdf). This document draws attention to the potential risks of these car seats with shield system, based on crash tests carried out by Transport Canada, UTAC CERAM (France), BASt (Germany), CSI (Italy) and Tass International (Netherlands). The European tests have been carried out according to the EURO-NCAP protocol on vehicles which have been previously tested in 2013 with harnessed car seats and which have achieved top safety ratings in those earlier tests (http://euroncap.com).
Based on the conclusions of this UNECE document, some tested car seats with shield systems appear to indicate a risk for the child to be partially or totally ejected from the child seat, in the case of a frontal impact (the most representative accident situation), with possible head impact with roof of the vehicle or with an
adjacent child seat.
In this document, it is also reported that the pressure applied on the abdomen by some tested car seats with a shield system is up to two or three times higher to the threshold recommended by the EC Search Programme called CASPER (Child Advanced Safety Projects for European Roads), depending on the employed manikins. It should be recalled that there is currently no legal threshold of pressure on the abdomen, nor any means of measuring this pressure on the manikins used for the standardization in Europe, which does not take into consideration this aspect. The GRSP has entrusted a working group of the EEVC (European Enhanced Vehicle- Safety Committee) with a study of this aspect, the results of which should be published soon.
The GRSP has also published, in 2013, the results of crash tests showing that the manikin installed in a car seat with shield could be ejected, when the vehicle rolls over (900° in the crash tests) (http://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/trans/doc/2012/wp29grsp/GRSP-52-12e.pdf).
Maxi-Cosi is aware that crash tests are not a completely precise representation of the real life accidents, and that the conclusions presented in the GRSP documents are there for information purposes, and have not given rise, at least for the time being, to regulatory decisions. However, Maxi-Cosi considers that the test results are sufficiently trustworthy and alarming for them to support their decision not to introduce car seats with shield system in their product range.
At Maxi-Cosi everything revolves around the safety of children. Therefore, they consider themselves to have an obligation to inform distributors and clients of the progress of the studies being carried out by the GRSP. In view of this information, Maxi-Cosi will continue only to offer car seats equipped with harness for children up to about 4 years, and continuously endeavours to improve children’s safety.