Research Testing - Child Protection Crash Research

Transport Canada conducts crash tests to monitor the existing child seat regulations and to gather in-vehicle crash evidence. This helps us to make sure our compliance testing is strong and children are protected. Vehicle seat designs and child seat designs change over time so it is important to ensure that the regulations remain current and representative of the kinds of risks that children might become exposed to in a motor vehicle collision.

Motor vehicle crash testing is conducted with crash test dummies that represent average size children that are 12 months, 3 years, 6 years and 10 years old. Child seats may be placed next to each other, and the dummies are place in normal, varied positions.

Frontal crashes are carried out at 40 km/h, 48 km/h and 56 km/h into a flat wall; into a soft barrier at 40 km/h; or into the side of another vehicle at 50 km/h. Frontal crashes into a wall, at or above 48 km/h, are considered severe collisions. Side impact crashes are carried out by striking the side of a motor vehicle with another vehicle or a moving barrier that represents a passenger car or sport utility vehicle (SUV).

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Rear-facing infant seats are tested with crash test dummies that are similar in size and weight to a 12 month-old-infant. We evaluate:

  • The harness or webbing and chest clip that keeps the infant in the seat;
  • The energy absorption or padding of the seat;
  • The attachment of the seat to its base; and
  • The amount of movement observed during a crash for infant bases attached with a seat belt or attached with the universal anchorage system, called the LATCH system in the United States.

Rear-Facing Infant Seat Testing and Research

Forward-facing child seats or convertible child seats are tested with crash test dummies that are similar in size and weight to a 3 and 6 year old. We evaluate:

  • The harness or webbing and chest clip that keeps the child in the seat;
  • The energy absorption or padding of the seat;
  • The amount of movement observed during a crash for seats attached with a seat belt compared to seats attached with the universal anchorage system; and
  • The strength of lower anchorages and top tethers when used with children who weigh more than 18 kg (40 lbs).

Protecting Children in Forward-Facing Car Seats

Booster seats are tested with crash test dummies that are similar in size and weight to a 6 and 10 year old. We evaluate:

  • The ability of the belt guides, if present on the booster seat, to keep the seat belt in position throughout the crash event;
  • The energy absorption or padding of the booster seat;
  • The amount of movement observed during a crash; and
  • The extent of protection offered by a booster seat during a side impact crash.

Booster Seat Testing

Research testing is not intended to lead to rating or ranking of child seats against each other. There is also no pass/fail determination. Rather, potential risks are identified, even though the seats may comply fully with mandatory safety standards. The results are shared publicly and with a broad community of regulators, child seat manufacturers and vehicle manufacturers at various national and international forums, including technical conferences. The research program often leads to better design and increased child protection. It also encourages vehicle manufacturers to design vehicles while taking into account the need to make vehicle seats compatible with child seats.

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