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Car Seat Side-Impact Protection

Is your child really safe inside a safety seat?

Is it providing actual safety with those beefy space age foams?

The history of baby car seat side protection isn’t old. Rather we find the manufacturers involved in a competition to gradually make it better.

They have given colorful names to their side protection. But they are to some extent aren’t enough for your kids.

What is Side Impact Protection?

The name is enough to define the feature.

Side impact protection means a special layer of foams forming wing like structures on the height of head of the child.

This is granted as a prominent feature on any kind of safety seats.

A child’s head and neck is its most sensitive area. The other parts are capable of handling greater impact forces but the head and neck is completely different.

They don’t grow fully even at six or seven years old of a child. A slight pressure can snap them which will either paralyze the child or be the cause of it’s death in a car crash.

The older models of travel car seat don’t come with side impact protection and hence caused many deaths. But the manufacturers gradually understood its importance and now most of the best baby car seat comes with side impact protection feature.

Also, there is another kind of side impact protection developed by the Volvo Company. It is actually a side impact protection for the car.

But that is not our area of concern.

What our concern is that 40% of child fatalities of children under 8 are caused by side impacts in America (according to a survey of  NHTSA).

Types of Side Impact Protection

Now, there are different types of car seats those side impact protection have been developed. Depending on the materials and manufacturing style side impact protections are of two kinds.

  • EPP or EPS foam – This side impact protection type is just a regular extended version of the car seat.  These EPS foams are not like the regular ones. They are much more energy absorbing than the regular ones. On the infant seats the baby is kept in a deep position. It is covered with foams from all around except the front side. This extended foaming provides the additional safety from sideways.
  • Air Protection – Air protection is a new kind of side impact protection that have recently been developed and introduced in the latest models of few manufacturers. It’s just two individual inflated air bags on the sideways that tend to protect the child from side impacts.

As side impact protections are a newer addition to child safety seats they have a lot of room of development. Already they have proven themselves by providing the children with a whole new level of protection.

How – Side Impact Protection Work?

To understand the functions of a side impact protection you have to understand the scenario of a side collusion or crash.

On a side crash something hits the car with great force. In most of the cases that impact generates ample amount of force to throw the child in sideways. On sides there could be a window, hand rest or something where the baby can hit.

The side impact protectors create a barrier between the contact and that’s why the baby doesn’t get thrown away too far away and its head hits the protective foam or air bag and bounces back.

This way it remains protected inside a safety seat. Also, the pulling force is enough to snap the child’s shoulder, collar bone and ribs. Side impact protectors leave a very little room for the child to move around.

Side impact protection is such a feature that tends to give complete protection from sideways.

But it needs a whole lot of research to make it more and more protective and caring. There are a lot of room of improvement of the side impact protection. But the recent scenarios have some problems that we should be aware of.

Problems and its Development:

Side protection aims at protecting your child from sideways crashes. The seats are basically focused on protecting the child from frontal accident impact.

The intensity of the focus was so great that side protection was overlooked on older models. It became a concern for the manufacturers of best infant car seats after a research proved that 40% death of children in car accidents are caused from side collisions.

The manufacturers have came up with colorful names as Advanced Side Impact Protection, True Side Impact Protection, Complete Side Impact Protection, Air Plus, Safety Surround, GCEU and many more.

The question is, are they really safe for your child?

And the problem is that there aren’t any fixed standards to measure it where other type of protection has such standards and satisfactory testing method. Here’s a details of the lacking that is found in the testing process.

The dummy that is used for testing side impact protection on infant car seats is called Q3s. It resembles a three year old kid. Firstly it’s not built with the attributes of an infant.

So, the tests are less justified. The Q3s has the same weight as a 3 year old. But it surely is a bit taller than a three year old child. So what happens is in the results of the impact testing are often confusing.

Yes, confusing because these tests aren’t a representation of real life scenarios. As the head of the dummy stays way outside the safe zone, the risk of head injury is ever present. Does the numbers or readings of impact absorption vary that much after this?

Certainly not!

Here’s the point… smaller sized dummies should be used to measure the impacts and run the side impact protection tests. This way the results would be more appropriate and real. This will determine if the side protection of a safety seat is an actual one.

The manufacturers claim a lot about their side protection. Some brands say that their seats are designed and tested in renowned labs around the world. One brand tries to excel over the other with their side impact protection technologies.

Even, some safety seats come with wing like extra layers around the head or air cushions. These are all advertising or marketing strategies of the manufacturers.

So, appropriate testing of these seats is really important. And also a standardization of this side protection is necessary too. That’s how consumers can be sure of the side protection being safe.

baby car seat side impact protection

Our Expectations:

We want nothing but safety seats for our children. We hope that the number of injuries and deaths will gradually fall with the development of safety seats. In this case what we mean by development of safety seats.

Side impact protection is one of the safest parts of a child safety seat. We expect it to not only be safer but properly adjustable also. Whatever the level of safety is, it’s of no good use if it can’t be customize with the height of the child.

While doing the researches and experiments the age of the child should matter a lot. Side impact protections should be developed for children of all ages and not one in particular. This way children of 1 to 10 will at least be safe from side crashes.

More effective systems of absorbing and distributing impact forces should be developed carefully and should be included in the safety seats as soon as possible.

We should always keep in mind that it’s our children’s safety that we are dealing with. Compromising it for anything would really be a bad idea.