Do Legal Car Seats mean Safe Car Seats?
When you consider the average speed that you drive at and compare that to the 30-50km/h speed that car seats are crashed at to pass EU Regulations and be sold legally then it is not surprising that additional crash tests that use higher speeds and look at additional measures such as forces on the neck etc. give you a better indication of the safety of a car seat.
For a car seat to be legally sold in the EU it must pass one of the below crash tests:
The older EU Regulation is the ECE R44 04 crash test:
* Frontal collision testing at a speed of 50km/h
* 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
The New R129 UN Regulation crash test is also know as i-Size:
* Frontal collisions testing at a speed of 50km/h
* Rear impact collision testing at 30km/h. The seat is also subjected to a rollover test.
* Dynamic test for side impact (new under this regulation)
* Uses the new Q-Dummies series, which more closely represent the actual effects of a crash on the body of real children.
Car Seat Crash Tests that are more stringent than the EU Regulation Approval Tests
ADAC / Stiftung Warentest
The ADAC / Stiftung Warentest conduct car seat crash tests at the below speeds, which are higher than the EU Regulations:
* Frontal collision testing at a speed of 64km/h
* Side impact collision impacts at a speed of 50km/h
* Impact loads are measured on differently sized child dummies.
ADAC is an organization representing the interests of car owners in Germany and is the central testing facility of the European automobile clubs and one of only a handful of test centres accredited by Euro NCAP (New Car Assessment Program).
Stiftung Warentest is an independent company and Germany’s leading consumer testing organization. It does not accept any advertising and is partly public funded to ensure its independence.
The test results are released twice a year and the scores in these test results are not based only on the car seat safety results. The scores are split with 50% for car seat safety results and 50% for evaluations of aspects such as user-friendliness, risk of misuse, comfort for the child, quality of the cover, craftsmanship, space in the car, the user manual, how easy cleaning is etc.
The test results are published in Which? magazine in the UK and similar consumer company reports. Due to only 50% of the result being based on the car seat safety it is important to look beyond which seat is listed as a “Best Buy” or “Don’t Buy” to the actual crash test results. Also some rear facing seats are tested as front facing, so due to the incorrect installation the test results are not accurate.
Unfortunately not all seats pass the safety part of the test due to the more stringent requirements: these are seats that are on the market due to passing EU Regulations.
The below is the crash video released by Stiftung Warentest on 04/04/19 re the failure of the Chicco Oasys i-Size: you can see clearly in the video that the buckle on the seat failed. This is a seat that passed the i-Size Regulation Crash Test (R129) and another example of why seats with satisfactory additional testing results are safer.
(Chicco has responded to this failed testing and states that the model will be revised and that the previous version is no longer on the market. If you already own this car seat, you can get the corresponding parts replaced free of charge by contacting Chicco)
Failure of Harness Buckle in i-Size Car Seat
Swedish Plus Test
The Swedish Plus Test is a voluntary test by VTI (the National Road and Transport Research Institute) and is not carried out anywhere else in Europe.
Why is the Plus Test Different?
The Plus Test is different to other crash tests in that it measures the strain on the crash test dummy's neck instead of measuring the strain on the crash test dummy’s chest (which show little about the true risk factors).
A Plus tested car seat ensures that your child is not exposed to life-threatening high neck forces in a frontal collision. According to Axkid there are three main factors that make the Plus Test hard to pass, with many car seats ending up in ruins in the test.
> Higher speed than normal compared to the speed used by our European standards ECE R44 and R129, also called “i-Size”.
> Very short braking distance, which makes the impact on the car seat brutal, the shorter the braking distance, the more violent the forces become.
> To make the Plus Test even more difficult, you not only use higher speed and shorter braking distance but also carefully measure the forces in crash test dummy’s neck with sensors.
The Plus Test has such strict requirements that forward facing child car seats would not be able to comply with them.
Rear Facing V Forward Facing
The Swedish Plus Test reinforces the message that rear facing is safer as forward facing car seats will not have any chance to pass this test.
When you note the position of the crash dummy's neck/head in the crash test image below and the implications of this then the difference between a forward and rear facing car seat is very clear.
Swedish Plus Tested Car Seats
As the only Rear Facing Specialist in Ireland our company aim is Child Car Seat Safety and raising the awareness of correct car seat usage and extended rear facing in order to help kids travel safer.
We stock a large range of Rear Facing car seats and High Back Boosters and will help you find a car seat that will suit your family's needs. Contact us for free advice today!