March 03, 2014

Borehamwood, Monday 03 March 2014

How to best protect a child in forward facing toddler car seat?

In the European market there are currently two main restraint systems available for forward facing car seats intended for toddlers of approximately 1 to 4 years old: the 5-point harness and the shield system.

There are 3 main reasons why Dorel chooses to equip its forward facing toddler car seats with a 5-point harness:

1.    Safer deceleration by restraining rigid body parts

A 5-point harness works with 5 main attachment points that make sure that children are restrained by the rigid parts of their body: shoulders and hips. The 5-point harness transfers the crash forces from the harness to the rigid points of the body and into the seat. This is a natural way to secure a body, and it is applied widely in other industries such as car racing notably for this reason. Soft parts of a body may not withstand the forces of a crash in the same way as rigid parts do.

Currently it is not possible to measure the loads on the soft lower abdomen area, as the current crash test dummies are not equipped with sensors in these areas

Therefore, the United Nations have assembled a Task Force consisting of international experts to conduct a research study with the objective to establish injury limits and assess the overall risks for children and focuses on the measurement of the forces on the abdomen and injuries to the chest of the child by developing new sensors for the crash test dummies.

2.    Firm restraining to remain in the safest position

In the case of a car accident where different forces are applied (for instance a roll-over), there is a risk for the child to be ejected or to slide down from the car seat. The 5-point harness makes sure that the child is tightly secured by a one-pull movement, and keeps the child in the safest position within the protective seat shell, whatever the accident may involve.

A car seat that passed ECE R44-04 legislation showed insufficient restraining capabilities during a simulated roll-over test. Crash tests by UTAC (independent testing organisation for the automobile industry) have showed that after two full roll-overs, the dummy was ejected from a car seat with a shield systems. You can learn more in the video about the car seat roll over test for shield harness, and in the video about the car seat roll over test for 5-point harness.

To prevent such ejection from a car seat, an amendment has therefore been approved, which introduces a more severe test to better replicate roll-over crashes. This amendment has been active since December 2013.

3.    Perfect fit to the growing body

A 5-point harness in a forward facing toddler seat is easy to adjust to different height positions and therefore offers a perfect fit for different body sizes. The shoulder straps can be easily adjusted in height in order to have a straight horizontal line from the car seat shell to the shoulder. This positioning ensures that the forces applied in an accident are best transferred to the car seat shell and the rigid shoulder bones of the child.

Find here the full statement. This statement is related to group 1 forward facing car seats only, seats that are designed for toddlers. An infant carrier (group 0+ car seat) has a different set of requirements as the seat is solely used as a rearward facing seat. Both ADAC and Dorel internal tests show that if an infant or child travels in a rearward facing position the loads of an accident are mainly taken by the shell of the car seat, and the remainder is taken by the shoulder webbing.  In the case of an accident in this position, the main purpose of the 3-point-harness is to keep the child inside the seat; the safest position. Additionally, a 3-point-harness is easier to tighten around a baby than a 5 point harness. As a result, the chances are higher that the baby is secured tightly enough.

To read the full statement please click here.

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