If you are accustomed to searching for information on child restraint systems on the internet, exploring forums and following thread after thread on the subject of most concern to parents (i.e. the complete safety of their school-age children), Spanish internauts will have come across a term that translates as a “Japanese absorption system” which is safer than others. Finding full information on this system is not complicated but you will need to spend some time and effort in sifting through the available data.
The Japanese absorption system is nothing more nor less than a special filling for car seats with a much better capacity for absorption than the normal seats you are familiar with. It was invented by the firm Takata, and they are known as Takata Airpads. Before going further into this subject it would be advisable to go over how child restraint systems operate in the event of a collision.
Firstly, when a collision happens there are two main restraint points. The first is the fastening used to secure the seat into the car, either an ISOFIX-style anchor point or else the rear seat belts. The second is the CRS harness itself. Both must properly fastened, and tightened up, as explained in the linked articles.
Apart from restraint we need to pay attention to absorption: every action provokes an equal and opposite reaction and therefore, during a collision, a restraint will be needed that prevents the body moving forward freely as well as good absorption to cushion the body once it has been restrained, as the rebound effect is quite robust.
Car seats are available with different types of cushioning (ranging from the most basic foam ones up to more elaborate ones) and there is a variety of solutions such as head wings, that not only offer headrest support to children should they fall asleep, but also a certain level of protection in the event of a side impact (protection that has already been tested in i-Size type seats). Thus, it is very important that these absorption features should be of the highest quality.
The Japanese system otherwise known as the Takata Airpads system
Takata Airpads are patented cushions that are manufactured with the same fabric used in airbags, and they are filled with synthetic foam and air. All of the Japanese firm's restraint systems come with Airpads as standard, and therefore offer extra protection in an impact between the child and the child seat.
This is always welcome, but in the case of lateral collisions smooth cushioning significantly reduces the effects of impact forces on the child's body. In addition to the protection provided by the soft cushion, this technology also offers greater comfort for children in their child seats.
These seats are not widely available in Spain, although in the case of BMW, it is the brand's preferred seat manufacturer. These are restraint systems in the mid-high price range, no doubt due to the extra protection they give at the whiplash moment following a collision.