Just because a car seat has passed standard testing – doesn’t mean it’s passed all testing. There are several crash tests that are superior to the standard R44.04 crash test. Let’s take a look!
A Crash Course – in Crash Testing
Under Regulations ECE R44 04, seats must, amongst other requirements, undergo:
- A frontal collision testing at a speed of 50km/h
- A rear impact collision testing at 30km/h.
- In Supplement 16 of R44 04 the seat is also subjected to a rollover test.
- Uses the P-dummy family
Here is an overview of these crash tests to help you, but it’s still important to know that any rear facing car seat will be safer than a forward facing car seat – no matter what testing it has been through.
It is worth mentioning though that a crash at 50km/h is the same as a 10 meter drop fall. Or a fall from a 3rd story “balcony”. So it is indeed quite an impact on the body…
One of the most common crash-test is done by the ADAC in Germany. These test results are then bought by other consumer companies and re-published to the public depending on what country you are in. For example in the UK, ‘WHICH?’ consumer magazine publishes these tests, in Norway, you have ‘Forbrukerrådet’ and so on.
An important note is that in the ADAC testing – the complete score that for example WHICH? Are posting as a result -are not solely the car seat’s safety results.
50% of the result is ‘user friendliness’ and the other 50% is the actual crash test result. Sadly these are not scored separately which can be confusing to someone who doesn’t know what to look for.
Therefore it’s very important to not only look at the ‘Best Buy’ and ‘Don’t Buy’ when looking at these tests, but look into the actual crash test result as this is what really matters in the event of an accident.
This is one of the reasons why Impact Shield car seats have previously had a very good score and several ‘Best Buys’. But the Impact Shield car seats are forward facing only – and will never be as safe as a rear facing car seat.
There is also a lot of concern regarding the force impact on the child’s abdomen – which until recently was impossible to measure. But because the impact shield seats are very user-friendly in that they are easy to install, the seats have gotten very good reviews by ADAC.
An Impact Shield Car Seat was Plus Tested in 2012!
ADAC Crash Test Info:
Frontal and side impacts are simulated (at 64 kph and 50 kph respectively) with a four-door vehicle body shell mounted to a test sledge. Impact loads are measured on differently sized child dummies. Belt routeing, size adjustment, seat stability and head support are assessed subjectively.
A child seat is installed in a car for test purposes with the aim to identify the misuse potential. Testing covers buckling up and unstrapping the child/dummy, installation, removal and adaptation of the seat (for larger/smaller child) and a check of the instruction manual.
During the test installation of the seat, we verify the leg support, upholstery or uncovered parts and the child’s field of vision.
Several testers check seat cleaning and assess workmanship.
- ADAC verdict
The overall rating only relates to safety and ease of use, with the lower rating tipping the scale.
- Q-Dummy family
The abdominal sensors (APTS) for Q3 were implemented in spring 2015.
On the 9th of July 2013, the new UN R129 (i‐Size) legislation was officially adopted by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). Since this date, 60 countries, including all EU countries, have adopted this new regulation.
The Regulation provides for the rear-facing position of children up to a mandatory minimum of 15 months, instead of 9kg in the current regulation 44.04. This will offer better protection for the developing head and neck of babies and toddlers by requiring children to be transported rearward facing until a minimum of 15 months of age, though continued rear facing is the very safest option for your child.
R129 Crash Test & Info:
- The introduction of a side impact test procedure which will lead to better protection of the child’s head especially for younger children. Until today, there was no dynamic test requirement for lateral impacts.
- New generation dummies which more closely represent the actual effects of a crash on the body of real children.
- Fewer installation options with ISOFIX only, which results in a lower risk of the seat being incorrectly fitted in the car. A simplified guide to choosing the right seat for the child, by using the height of the child as the only guideline.
- Better compatibility between the car and the CRS: “i-Size” CRS will fit in any “i-Size” ready seating position in a car (a vehicle fitting list will no longer be required). Both the CRS and the seating position can be recognised by the “i-Size” logo.
- Frontal collisions testing at a speed of 55km/h and rear impact collision testing at 30km/h. The seat is also subjected to a rollover test.
- Uses the new Q-Dummies series.
More info can be found here.
The Plus test is conducted at the Road Safety Institute in Linköping University, Sweden- called VTI. This is a voluntary test, and it is the only test in the world that measures the force load upon the child’s delicate neck in a frontal collision.
This is why a forward facing car seat has absolutely no way of passing the Plus test. The crash forces the neck is subjected to is simply too high when forward facing – compared to rear facing.
The Plus Test has been developed through collaboration between VTI, NTF (Swedish National Society for Road Safety), Folksam, SIS (Swedish Standards Institute), Volvo and representatives of manufacturers of child restraint systems.
PLUS Test Crash Testing Info:
- The crash test is carried out with a speed of 56.5 km/h
- Maximum neck load allowed for the 18kg test (Q3 test dummy 14,5 kg) is 1220 Kg Newton. The pull load is 122 kg.
- Maximum neck load for the 25kg test (Q6 test dummy 22,9 kg) is 1640 Kg Newton. The Pull load is 164 kg.
The above graphs clearly show the difference between forward facing and rear facing neck loads.
Wrapping it up
It is worth mentioning that several of the larger retailers do their own in-house crash testing. Many of them also do side impact testing during these tests even if the car seat is only being approved to R44-04.
Some manufacturers worth mentioning who do this are Britax, Joie, Axkid, BeSafe, Klippan, Maxi Cosi among others.
This is the 2nd article (of many) I wrote (and are still writing) for kindseats.com. As they have given their permission, I will continue to post my articles right here on my blog after they have been published by the company on their website/blog.
I hope these articles will help you understand how very important rear facing is to the children in your care, be them your own or others and I hope that after reading these you learn something useful to teach others and spread the word.
The main focus of my articles is of course rear facing – but we will travel between car seat comparisons, crash testing, typical myths and so forth. Which reminds me! Please do check out my “Debunking Myths” series here on the blog as well as my “tip of the day” series – I am told they are very helpful. :)
I don’t put a reference list in – but for most of my articles regarding extended rear facing, if you wish to see them, they are right here on the blog on the top menu under “Downloads”. It’s a full PDF file of all the extended rear facing research available on the net. If you can’t find something or are looking for something very specific, please let me know and I’ll try my hardest to help you find it. :)
Therese has completed the ‘Advanced Child Car Seat Training Course’ at TRL (Transport Research Lab) and is a CPD accredited car seat expert. She blogs about in-car safety, car seats, tips, reviews, giveaways and advice. She’s a mum on a mission to change the law and raise awareness. She is also a breastfeeding advocate and gentle parenting promoter who loves cloth nappies, baby-wearing, BLW and co-sleeping/bed-sharing.