How do car seat tests work?

Using ADAC as an example

Once or twice a year, German automobile club ADAC tests the latest car seats and infant carriers from each group in specially simulated head-on and side-impact collisions. The head-on collision takes place at a speed of 64 km/h whereas the side-impact collision impacts at a speed of 50 km/h.

Depending on the weight category, dummies of varying sizes are used in various crash situations in an attempt to simulate as accurately as possible the effects of an accident on children of differing ages and weights. Besides the extensive safety tests, other criteria are factored into the test results for each car seat and infant carrier, such as handling, ergonomic design, cleaning properties, workmanship and the presence of harmful substances.

The safety tests are carried out using professional equipment that accurately simulates what happens in a collision. The car seats are also tested in everyday use with real children and parents. The final rating derives from the average of all test results for each category.

The test criteria of e.g. the ADAC test are far stricter than the requirements of the ECE-R 44 standard 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 enhancing the safety of car seats and infant carriers over time.