Research In Action

Research In Action

rear facing boy
CChIPS Research Projects Aim to Alleviate Incompatibilities Between Car Seats and Vehicle Seats
September 8, 2015

Through research supported by the Center for Child Injury Prevention Studies (CChIPS), my colleagues and I are using the Microsoft Xbox Kinect Sensor™ to create a “virtual child seat” of rear-facing child restraint systems (CRS).

Our goal is to create a representative virtual model to aid vehicle and CRS manufacturers in assessing space and fitment during the design phase of their products, rather than assessing fit after both the vehicle and child seat are on the market, which has typically been the process. This research was published as a technical paper as part of the SAE 2015 World Congress and Expo earlier this year.

This compatibility issue has been brought to the forefront over the past week with the announcement of a publication in Traffic Injury Prevention next month, led by our colleagues at The Ohio State University’s (OSU) Injury Biomechanics Research Center.

In this CChIPS-supported study, OSU researchers collected dimension samples from 61 vehicles and 59 CRS currently on the market and identified the most common sources of incompatibility; the results revealed that less than 60 percent of rear-facing CRS-vehicle combinations fit properly between the vehicle’s seat pan angle and the CRS manufacturer’s required base angle.

What Parents Need to Know

OSU’s research sheds an important light on this issue for parents and caretakers. Parents should not assume that the CRS with the most safety features is "best" for their child; the best seat is the one that they can accurately and securely install in the rear seat of their vehicle. CHOP joins OSU in recommending that parents and caregivers try out a CRS in their vehicle before purchasing; I am a father of two young daughters, and I myself have had to return a CRS to the store after not achieving an adequate installation in the rear seat of my vehicle. For other considerations to share with parents before purchasing a CRS, click here.

While there are actions that parents can and should be taking now, such as testing out a seat before the child ever rides in the vehicle or taking advantage of car seat checks staffed by certified child passenger safety technicians, CChIPS’ researchers and Industry Advisory Board members are working toward technological solutions with CRS and vehicle manufacturers to head this problem off before it starts.

Click here for more information on CChIPS’s current and former research projects.