One of the main objectives in developing the new test was to better differentiate the ability of a variety of child seats to protect a child’s head. Head injuries to children in crashes are a significant concern for Consumer Reports. Other crash tests, including the government standards, do not measure what happens when a child comes into contact with another part of the vehicle. To that end, a key component of our test is the addition of a surface that simulates the interaction the child seat would have with the front seatback in an actual vehicle crash.
It was this interaction that provided some key insights into the potential safety benefits of convertible seats for rear-facing kids. In previous testing of a group of infant seats that include a detachable carrier, we found that the 22-pound dummy, representing an average 12-month-old child, suffered a head strike against the simulated front seatback with 16 of the 30 tested models (53 percent).
In our most recent tests of rear-facing convertible models with that same dummy, we found that the dummy’s head contacted the front seatback with only one of the 25 convertible models we tested (4 percent). The longer shells and shape of the convertible seats provided additional space between the dummy’s head and the simulated seatback preventing direct contact of the head.