Current efforts to enhance child restraint safety performance focus on protection afforded by child restraints in side impact crashes. Analyses of real world crashes can be used to identify relevant crash characteristics for incorporation into the design of test procedures. To this end, this paper assessed the injury risks for children restrained in CRS in side impact crashes as compared with frontal impacts and described the nature of their injuries using a large US population-based surveillance system. Injury risk for children on the struck side of the crash was significantly higher (8.9 injured children per 1000 crashes) than for children seated on the non-struck side of the crash (2.1 injured children per 1000 crashes) and children in frontal crashes (2.7 injured children per 1000 crashes). The most common injuries sustained in struck side impact crashes were to the face, head, and lower extremity. The ability to assess the injury potential for these body regions in a laboratory setting must be explored. The high risk of injury to those in struck side crashes suggests that regulatory and due care efforts should be placed on lowering the injury risk in this crash scenario.
Keywords: child restraint systems; side impacts; regulations; epidemiology