Can a child ride in a convertible car with the top open?

The law does not indicate a prohibition when you are in your child restraint, although experts and brands themselves do not recommend it.

A few weeks ago, we released a video that went viral from the United States. In the image, a father could be seen traveling with his little son in a convertible with the top open and “grace” was seen on the little boy’s face as he accelerated hard in a car. Porsche 911 GT3RS with more than 900 horsepower.

The child’s expression went from anguish to complete satisfaction in a matter of seconds, but it generated a series of comments about the danger of carrying the little one in this place and with the hood tucked away.

For the same, We asked brands and road safety experts whether it’s OK for a boy or girl to travel in a convertible with the top open.

The truth is that the the current legislation does not specify anything nor does it establish any prohibitions on this particular issue and only indicates that:

  • Since March 16, 2016: Girls and boys under the age of 12 must always travel in the rear seat of the vehicle, using the appropriate seat belt or child restraint system.
  • As of March 17, 2017: Until the age of 9 (or height of 135 centimeters and weight of 33 kilograms), boys and girls must be placed in an appropriate child restraint system based on their age, height and weight.

According to Conaset, the reason why children up to 12 years old should be seated in the rear seats is because “they travel safer in the rear, because the airbags are not designed for children, but for adults. Upon impact, they can cause serious damage, such as severe facial burns and suffocation.

The organization which ensures better road safety adds regarding children under 9 years old that “according to WHO figures, used correctly, child restraint systems can reduce fatal and serious injuries by 50 to 80% in babies and children. circulation accident. A road accident is not a tricycle accident! This requires a lot of energy, which is why a child cannot be protected without a child restraint system. An impact at 60 kilometers per hour is equivalent to falling from the 5th floor of a building.

For this reason, Conaset advises “never carry a child in your arms. No matter how hard you hold it, you won’t be able to keep it safe in the event of an accident. You can even crush the child.

Voices calling for caution

In our country, the range of convertibles is not very wide and ranges from Mazda MX-5 and Ford Mustang Convertible have high-end brand vehicles, such as Mercedes-Benz Class C and Class E Cabrio, BMW Serie 4 and M4 Cabrio, Porsche 718 Boxster and 911, Audi A5 Cabrio, Mini Cooper Cabrio , among others.

In Chile, the law only provides that children travel in their child restraint system (CRS), regardless of the body type. If this obligation is not respected – carrying a child under 12 years old in the front seat, or a child under 9 years old without their CRS – is considered a very serious offense, which results in a fine of 1, 5 to 3 UTM and a permit. suspension between 5 and 45 days.

Today, even if the regulations do not specify it, there are still voices that address the question of the comfort and safety that the rear seat can offer to a child in an open car, as indicated in the Dr. Sergio Rendich, Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST-I) Instructor and Head of the Child Passenger Safety Committee of the Chilean Pediatric Society , which states that “with regard to convertible cars and the risk to adult passengers, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), they do not appear to pose a risk, particularly to the safety of adult passengers. “In Chile, we do not have data on the link between the risk between the use of convertible cars and injuries and/or mortality of child passengers in this type of automobile.”

The specialist specifies, however, that “as there is a hypothetical higher risk of ejection from the car, it is very important that the child passenger is transported safely in their child restraint system (CRS), in accordance with the instructions of the vehicle manufacturer.” CRS and following the “Best Practices” in child passenger safety, of the American Academy of Pediatrics in Chile, currently the percentage of misuse of the CRS is very high, more than 90% , a situation which will be evident at the time of the accident (high energy trauma) and will probably also have repercussions on convertible cars.

Alberto Escobar, mobility director of the Automobile Club of Chile and road safety specialist within the institution, makes a reservation concerning two-seater roadsters (like the Mazda MX-5) and convertibles with two rows of seats.

Alberto Escobar
Alberto Escobar, mobility director of the Automobile Club of Chile

For the expert, “it is not recommended to transport children in sports roadster type vehicles, that is to say those which only have two seats. Generally, these models are not designed for the safe transport of minors, even less for the installation of seats, and they are not adapted to offer the comfort required by this type of occupant during their transfers.

Escobar adds that “convertibles are designed to coexist with exposure to the outdoors and the sun, characteristics that do not match the convenience and comfort needed to transport children inside the vehicle. Exposure to extreme weather conditions, such as sun or cold, can be more uncomfortable and dangerous for children when traveling. »

Regarding the correct location and installation of child seats, Dr. Rendich completes and emphasizes that “it is important to consider that the convertible car must have enough space to install the CRS rearward facing, for the longest time possible (allowing CRS), for example up to 18 kilos (3 to 4 years) and thereafter you must continue to use a convertible and integral CRS (with harness), for as long as possible as the manufacturer allows it. In the case of convertible cars, in my opinion it is preferable to use a CRS with American regulations, which has greater weight coverage (more than 18 kilos), to be able to continue using the harness as long as the CRS allows (weight and size). . . Thereafter, it is appropriate to continue with a booster seat with backrest, also for as long as possible as the manufacturer allows, to finally continue with a booster seat without backrest until the child passenger measures between 145 and 150 cm (depending on the size of the seat and geometry of the seat belt) ensuring that when seated, the child passenger can rest their entire back on the seat back, their knees protrude beyond the edge of the seat and simultaneously rest both feet on the floor of the car, next to the seat belt. well positioned on the hips, sternum and shoulder and without play. »

The voices of automobile brands

Audi Chile, one of the brands that offers a convertible model, also advises going with the roof up when children are traveling, emphasizing from the brand with the rings that “our Audi A5 Cabrio has an Isofix and Top Tether system on the rear seats, so there It is possible that the children are seated on chairs equipped with a CRS. However, due to outdoor conditions such as exposure to wind and sun, it is recommended not to take children with the roof open, as this will expose them to burns or the effects of the outside that may be harmful to them. their health.

At BMW, they take the same stance on safety. Fernando Cifuentes, head of market intelligence and product specialist at BMW Group Chile, said that “in theory, (children) can travel with the roof open, because the car has a safety system that, in case of overturning. The anti-roll bars are activated, which can provide greater safety so that the passenger does not touch the ground. However, logically, one could consider this action very risky, since the child is still at risk by relying entirely on the support of the chair. As a brand, we recommend that if a child is transported in a convertible model, this is done carefully and with the roof closed.

As we can see, although the legislation does not prohibit it, experts point out that common sense must also be at the table when making the decision and, although the air on the face, the smell that can come from the outside are sensations that sometimes adults and children are fascinated by it, child care must always be a priority, avoiding direct exposure to the sun and the discomfort that it can generate when driving within the authorized speed limits.

Source: Latercera

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