To guarantee the safety of child seats for cars, it is necessary to perform exhaustive crash tests. In this way it is possible to test the different types of collision that might occur on the road, and check the level of resistance and safety that a CRS provides to its young occupants.
There are several different types of test. For example, in a specialist laboratory child seats are subjected to head-on and side impact collisions to test the effectiveness of the protection provided to children, usage criteria are assessed and tests are even carried out to determine if there are any toxic substances present in the product. In the article “Types of tests performed on child car seats” provides more information on the subject.
Laboratory tests on car seats always provide more specific and detailed results than in other fields, as in the case of EuroNCAP, because they usually carry out tests on each and every one of the car seats available on the market. Official bodies that undertake these tests include the Royal Automobile Club of Spain (RACE), the Royal Automobile Club of Catalonia (RACC) and the Consumer and Users Organization (OCU).
Nevertheless, tests run by EuroNCAP are of interest with regard to child seats in that they use a particular model of vehicle together with a model or collection of models of car seats. Some interesting elements are employed in these crash tests, such as dummies equivalent to six-year-old children in addition to running standard crash tests. The EuroNCAP provides a standard of crash tests that has a direct influence on the market, which is why they are constantly being updated, refining the processes and making the tests sterner.
EuroNCAP carries out three types of global tests and the first of these checks general CRS performance. In it they use different types of dummies to represent children of different ages. The first ones that were used represented children of 18 months and 3 years old respectively, and from 2016 two more ages were added: 6 and 10 years old. These dummies present a distinctive dynamic during a crash, as well as serving to test out booster cushions among other factors.
This phase puts the dummies' head movements, neck loads and chest acceleration to the test. The highest possible marks are obtained if no dummy is thrown out of the seat and if there is no strong impact with the interior of the car during the crash.
Meanwhile, there is the test that indicates the availability of the various types of attachment points in the car: credit is given to vehicles fitted with i-Size seats, for example and also other features such as ISOFIX anchor points at various positions on the seats, the "i-Size" label, a switch to deactivate the front passenger seat airbag with clear instructions for the user, integrated child seats, etc.
Lastly, a selection of popular CRS are tested (that have already passed the previous safety tests) to assess their ease of installation. The length of the seat belt is evaluated, the positioning of the buckle, the accessibility of the ISOFIX anchor point for the CRS, among other tests such as the possibility of installing them facing the rear. In general they test that a CRS can be installed in any position on any seat.