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Traffic Inj Prev. 2005 Jun;6(2):135-46.

Improved protection for children in forward-facing restraints during side impacts.

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Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute, University of New South Wales, Randwick, Australia.



This study aims to determine the potential for improved child occupant protection in side impacts that can be obtained using rigid and semi-rigid anchorage systems and the addition of energy-absorbing padding in the side structures of child restraints.


This study uses a comprehensive set of simulated side impacts to evaluate the potential for improved side impact protection in forward-facing child restraints. Factors investigated included methods of anchoring the restraint to the vehicle, energy-absorbing materials in the side structure of restraints, and design features of the restraints such as side wing geometry and seat belt routing.


The results show clearly that completely rigid lower attachment of restraints offers the potential for great reductions in head injury risk, which anchorage systems employing a combination of a rigid anchorage bar and webbing attached to a child restraint cannot match. The addition of energy absorbing material in the side structure of restraint systems is effective when the head is fully contained within an adequately designed side wing structure. For restraints anchored by seat belts and loop style semi rigid anchorage straps, belt routing has the potential to significantly affect occupant head excursion.


The results suggest that current child restraint standards and consumer testing protocols do not adequately encourage best practice design of child restraints for side impact protection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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