Principal Investigator: Yun Seok Kang, PhD, The Ohio State University
WHAT WAS THE PURPOSE OF THIS PROJECT?
We studied how CRS that are not ideally fitted to the vehicle and child affect the child’s safety in far-side impact scenarios. We ran sled tests to examine the performance of both forward- and rear-facing CRS with different fit conditions. We looked at far-side impacts because those produce more kinematic change than near-side impacts.
We used an ideally fitted CRS as a baseline to test slightly non-ideal fits, such as CRS installed with a pool noodle to create the proper recline angle, CRS with a narrow base, CRS with a gap behind the seat bight (the intersection between the bottom vehicle seat cushion and the back cushion) and CRS with a gap behind the back near the top of the CRS. Caregivers and/or parents may commonly experience these non-ideal installations. However, it is important to note that we did not create a scenario in which the CRS was actually misused; a non-ideal fit does not mean misuse. Proper CRS fit depends on the vehicle and CRS models.
HOW DID YOU DETERMINE WHAT NON-IDEAL INSTALLATIONS TO STUDY?
We used a matrix created in a previous CChIPS study led by Julie Mansfield. She measured CRS and vehicle seat dimensions and then determined the ideal fit and a range of less-than-ideal fits based on those measurements.
WERE YOU SURPRISED BY ANY OF YOUR FINDINGS?
We were a little surprised to find minimal differences among different CRS fit conditions. We thought we might find more significant differences in the ATD responses between the ideal fit and the non-ideal fit conditions. So it appears that both CRS and vehicle manufacturers are designing robust systems that are forgiving even when the fit is not ideal, especially in the far-side impact scenario that we tested.
We want to build on this project and confirm our findings with more testing using different CRS and different vehicle fits. It might be worthwhile in the future to look at cases of CRS misuse as well.
Gretchen Baker, The Ohio State University
Keith Nagelski, Britax Child Safety, Inc.; Emily Thomas, Consumer Reports; Hiromasa Tanji, TK Holdings Inc.; Julie Kleinert, Emeritus Chair; Uwe Meissner, Technical Advisor