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Child seat: The safest place in the car

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Fortunately, here in Switzerland children generally don’t ride in a car without a car seat. But which seat is the safest? From which age can child seats be placed on the passenger seat? And where is the baby seat supposed to be? AXA prevention expert Michael Pfäffli explains. 

In Switzerland, children riding in a car must sit on a child seat up to the age of 12 or a height of 150 centimeters. It’s important to note that you should have the right child seat and the right way to secure the child in the car. What many people don’t know is that there are safer and less safe places for child seats in a car, as Michael Pfäffli, Head of Research and Prevention at AXA, explains: “The safest place in a car is the middle of the back seat. If there is a three-point seat belt and full seat there, then that is where the child seat should be installed. In the event of an accident, the passenger compartment will be pushed in, and it is here that you are best protected.”

Second-most safe: The right side of the car

If the child seat cannot be installed in the middle of the back seat of the car, it should be placed on the back seat on the passenger side: “Statistics clearly show that the driver’s side is most often impacted by accidents. Accordingly, the back seat on the passenger side has the lowest risk of side impact,” explains the prevention expert.

For older children who no longer need a child seat, but who use a booster seat, the passenger seat is a good place to sit because the front seats have head rests, and from a technical standpoint, are better developed than the back seat and have better safety features. “The back seats, on the other hand, were long neglected in the development of protections systems, especially when it comes to rear impact collision,” says Michael Pfäffli.

If you are driving with several children in the car, it is advisable to put the child seat in the middle of the back seat and additional child seats on the passenger side (in the front and back) of the car.

Baby seat on the back seat

“Really small children, i.e. babies up to the age of about two, must be secured in a baby seat. This should be installed facing away from the direction of travel – but if possible, it should not be installed in the passenger seat,” advises Michael Pfäffli. If a baby seat is installed on the passenger seat, the airbag must be deactivated, he explains and adds: “However, the driver often forgets to reactivate the airbag once the baby seat is no longer there. This can have grave consequences for the passenger in the event of an accident.

Pfäffli urgently advises installing all child and baby seats with the Isofix fixing system. This way, you significantly increase the probability that the child or baby seat remains fixed on the car seat in the event of an accident and does not get hurled through the car.


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