Observational surveys and analysis of motor vehicle collision data files have confirmed that some infants are transferred to the next category of restraint or taken out before they have “out-grown” their prescribed protective devices. Legislation, enforcement and education countermeasures are tools that have been used to increase proper restraint use among infants. The next phase of improving protection for infants is regulating aspects of the product to increase prolong proper use. The introduction of larger infant dummies in sled testing is one of the most important of these regulatory initiatives as it applies to infant restraints.
Canadian collision data files were analyzed and crash tests simulations (sled tests) were conducted. Convertible restraints were tested in the rear and forward facing configurations using 6-, 9-, 12- and Is-month and 3-year dummies. All parameters for the 12- and 1 g-month dummies were recorded for a more indepth comparison of the performance of restraints when tested facing forward or rearward. Every convertible restraint tested in the rear facing configuration passed the CMVSS 213.1/FMVSS 213 criteria with the 6-, 9-, 12- and 18-month dummies. Some of the restraints passed the regulations’ criteria with the 3-year old dummy although the dummy’s legs interaction with the standard seat back was a challenge for proper installation. In all cases, the structural integrity of the restraint was intact.
Canadian child restraint use surveys were reviewed to determine the level of proper use and orientation of infant restraints. Likewise, accident data files were analyzed to determine the proportion of infants and children involved in motor vehicle collisions who occupy infant/child restraint devices. The injury severity levels were determined. These injuries were compared for restrained/unrestrained and ages of occupants, and if the restraint devices was used properly or not.
Analytical methods are employed to determine whether any significant effects on the restraint performance exist due to infant dummy size, restraint model or the interaction of the two. Also, similarities and differences in performance among the forward and rear facing configurations and various restraint models are measured and compared.
Infants and young toddlers, are provided with a higher level of safety when restrained in a rear facing infant restraint system as long as possible rather than not being restrained, being restrained in a forward facing restraint or restrained by a seat belt.