The world’s first child car seat with built-in airbags is being launched in Britain.
It detects a collision in less than a blink of an eye – protecting toddlers in the same way as adults are protected by airbags built into modern cars.
Bags in the shoulder pads of the harness instantly inflate – then automatically deflate one second after impact.
The seat which can be used facing forward or backward can also be used in the front passenger seat, the manufacturer has said.
The £550 device more than halves jerking forces on the neck and head compared to other forward-facing car seats.
In a frontal collision children in forward-facing seats are at risk of severe spinal and neck injuries or traumatic ‘chin-to-chest’ strikes.
It is suitable for children from four months to four years, say the manufacturers.
Maxi Cosi’s new ‘Air Technology’ seat uses an acceleration sensor and trigger installed in the back that sets off a CO2 air cartridge, which inflates a pair of small airbags around the child’s shoulder and chest area.
It uses an accelerator sensor and trigger installed in the back of the seat to set off a CO2 air cartridge.
This inflates a pair of small airbags around the child’s shoulders and chest.
Andrew Ratcliffe, managing director of Maxi-Cosi, said: “Cars are designed to transport adults and while they did get safer over the decades, child safety is mostly depending on car seat legislation and experts.
“Real innovations need to come from our industry.
“A few years ago, we investigated if and how airbags could better protect a child’s head and neck in forward-facing car seats.”
Read everything you need to know about child car seat rules in the UK here.
Last year, 69 children were killed in road accidents in Britain – with a further 156 seriously injured.
Mr Ratcliffe said the deployment and evolvement of car seats play an important role in the reduction of these numbers.
He said: “Successful applications in airbag technology gave us inspiration, such as the airbag jackets for motorcyclists and airbag seatbelts in aircraft that inflate during a collision.”
Maxi-Cosi teamed up with Helite, a French company specialising in mobile airbag technology.
Mr Ratcliffe said: “Our Maxi-Cosi Air Safety technology will lower the impact of an accident to a child’s neck and head in a forward-facing child car seat, resulting in better safety for toddlers.”
Mr Ratcliffe said the system detects a collision in 0.05 seconds – inflating the two airbags in the shoulder pads “within the blink of an eye” to cushion the head softly.
He said in tests the seat reduced the forces acting on the neck vertebrae and the head in the case of a frontal collision by up to 55 percent.
The first child car seat that will include the airbag is the AxissFix Air and will be available in selected stores from today.
It features a 360° swivel which can be used for both rear and forward-facing travel and is suitable for children whose height is between 61 and 105 cm (2ft and 3ft 5in).