No compromise when it comes to child safety
Even though parents around the world are all so different, they have one thing in common. They all share the same concern for the safety of their children. Particularly in the car, this is a topic where compromise simply is not an option.
To help parents choose the right car seat or infant carrier for their children, standards have been implemented across the world. In Europe, seat manufacturers currently must comply with standards UN R44/04 or UN R129 (i-Size). The latter is currently at stage R129/02.
In addition to the legal requirements, infant carriers and car seats are also checked and tested by independent testing institutes such as General German Automobile Club (ADAC) and Stiftung Warentest. To emerge as the winner of such a test, products must meet stringent requirements in a variety of different categories. Accordingly, safety standards are under constant review.
You can find more information on the different tests as well as the independent test organizations in the following paragraphs.
How do car seat tests work?
The child seat test is carried out by a consortium of different mobility clubs and consumer protection organizations (ADAC, ÖAMTC, TCS, Stiftung Warentest) once or twice a year. The mobility clubs and consumer protection organizations publish the test results. The General German Automobile Club ADAC tests car seats and infant car seats from each group in front and side-impact collisions. The front impact simulates a car front impact accident with 64 km/h whereas the side impact is simulating a car side impact accident with 50 km/h. Depending on the weight category, dummies of varying sizes are used in various crash situations to simulate the effects of an accident on children of differing ages and weights as accurately as possible.
In addition to the crash test, further tests are carried out to evaluate the safety of the child car seats with regards to misuse potential, handling, ergonomic design, cleaning properties, workmanship and the presence of harmful substances. The car seats are also tested in everyday use with real children and parents.
The test criteria for e.g. the ADAC test are far stricter than the requirements of the regulations and are constantly being tightened. Accordingly, the acceptable critical values and categories are under constant review. 2011, for example, saw the implementation of tests for harmful substances in car seats. Therefore, tests of this kind make a significant contribution to enhance the safety of car seats and infant car seats over time.
ADAC – General German Automobile Club
GERMANY’S LARGEST AUTOMOBILE CLUB
The ADAC – “Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil Club”, i.e. General German Automobile Club is the biggest association in Germany and has one of the world’s largest memberships, with approx. 20 million members. With a circulation of 13,700,000 copies their monthly magazine “ADAC Motorwelt” is the most read magazine in Europe.
The ADAC test is the best-known and most important test for child restraint systems in Europe. Once or twice a year the ADAC tests car seats of each group in a crash simulation of frontal as well as side impacts. The frontal crash is tested at 64 km/h and side impacts at 50 km/h. Differently sized dummies are used to simulate different age/weight groups of children. In addition to the safety aspect, handling & ergonomics, cleaning & workmanship as well as harmful substances are further test criteria a car seat is subject to scrutiny. The ranking follows the German school grading system, i.e. “Sehr gut” (very good), “gut” (good), “befriedigend” (average), “ausreichend” (bare minimum) and “mangelhaft” (poor). The ADAC is cooperating with other European Automobile Clubs such as ÖAMTC in Austria or TCS in Switzerland.
Stiftung Warentest is Germany’s leading consumer testing organization and considered to be the test leader in Europe. Founded in 1964 the Stiftung Warentest does not accept any advertising and is partly public funded to guarantee their independence.
Based on a methodology developed in Germany, the Stiftung Warentest conducts more than 150 comparative product and service testings a year, covering nearly all areas of every-day life. To date, approx. 100.000 products have been analyzed since its foundation.
The overall results follow the german school grading system
1.0-1.5: “sehr gut” (very good)
1.6-2.5: “gut” (good)
2.6-3.5: “befriedigend” (satisfactory)
3.6-4.5: “ausreichend” (bare minimum)
4.6-5.5: “mangelhaft” (poor)
The overall test is conducted based on the following criteria: Safety, handling, ergonomics and harmful substances. In this context, the Stiftung Warentest experts especially focus on hazardous substances. Accordingly, the acceptable critical values and categories are under constant review, which is why tests of this kind make a significant contribution to enhancing the safety of car seats and infant carriers over time.
Touring Club Switzerland (TCS)
SWITZERLAND ‘S LEADING AUTOMOBILE CLUB
The Touring Club Switzerland is the leading automobile association in Switzerland. The non-profit organization operates in the areas vehicles, tourism, and consumer advice and is testing different products throughout the year – including car seats – and actively supports road safety campaigns. The areas relevant for the test are safety in case of a collision, handling and ergonomics, harmful substances and cleaning as well as workmanship. The TCS announces its recommendations by awarding stars. Five stars stand for “excellent”, four for “highly recommended”, three for “recommendable” – down to just one star.
AUSTRIA’S AUTOMOBILE, MOTORBIKE, AND TOURING CLUB
The “Österreichischer Automobil-, Motorrad- und Touring Club”, i.e. Austrian Automobile, Motorbike and Touring Club, a sister organization of the German ADAC, is the largest automobile club in Austria as well as the seventh largest in the world. Like the ADAC, the ÖAMTC conducts tests of car seats once or twice a year in terms of handling, installation & risk of misuse. The rating also follows the German school grading system: “very good”, “good”, “satisfactory”, “bare minimum” and “poor”.