Principal Investigator: Julie Mansfield, PhD, The Ohio State University
WHAT WAS THE PURPOSE OF THIS PROJECT?
This project sought to evaluate rigid lower anchors (LA), an installation feature on CRS that has shown potential safety benefits but has had a slow introduction into the US market.
The goals for this study were two-fold: 1) to look at the compatibility of rigid LA with vehicles on the US market, and 2) to evaluate the usability of rigid LA for consumers.
HOW WAS THE RESEARCH CONDUCTED?
To evaluate compatibility, 12 CRS with rigid LA were examined and various features were measured. These metrics were compared to measurements from a sample of 32 recent model year vehicles. A subset of 150 physical installations of these CRS in actual vehicles were completed.
To evaluate usability, we recruited 30 adults to install two different CRS – one with rigid LA and one with traditional flexible LA – into two different vehicles each. We recorded their feedback on the installation processes and examined their installations, recording any misuse or errors.
WHAT WERE THE RESULTS?
While most rigid LA systems worked well with most vehicle seats, we did find a few compatibility challenges. Rigid LA cannot be attached in many center seating positions, where the attachment points are not in the standard position. Gaps sometimes occurred underneath or behind the CRS when the height or length of LA were not adjustable. Newer vehicle models tended to have better accessibility of LA compared to older vehicles.
From the usability portion, our adult volunteers responded well to this new technology: 80% indicated they preferred rigid LA compared to the traditional flexible LA system. Additionally, we saw fewer errors and misuse of the rigid LA system.
WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS FOR INDUSTRY?
We hope that these data will help both CRS and vehicle manufacturers make their products more compatible with one another and see that consumers can be open to new technology if it is easy to understand and intuitive to use.
Emily Thomas, Consumer Reports; Jennifer Stockburger, Consumer Reports; Casey Anthony, Graco Children’s Products Inc.; Josh Gazaway, Graco Children’s Products Inc.; Mark LaPlante, Graco Children’s Products Inc.; Marianne Le Claire, Graco Children’s Products Inc.; Nick Reaves, Graco Children’s Products Inc.; Kyle Mason, Iron Mountains LLC; Susan Mostofizadeh, American Honda Motor Co., Inc.; Nick Rydberg, Minnesota HealthSolutions; Jason Stammen, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; Steve Gerhart, Nuna Baby Essentials, Inc.; Schuyler St. Lawrence, Toyota USA; Paul Gaudreau, UPPAbaby; Uwe Meissner, Technical Advisor