Is the Protection Level Afforded by Additional Seats Comparable to One Afforded by Approved Child-Restraints?
With the introduction of new child restraint laws, there is debate regarding whether children under 7 years can safely use an additional third-row seat (Vehicle Standard Bulletin 05/VSB-05, Category-2 seat) without an approved child restraint. This study was undertaken to compare the protection level offered to children secured in an Approved Forward Facing Child Restraint (AFFCR) fitted on an additional seat to those seated directly on the additional seat. A station wagon fitted with an additional seat underwent a frontal crash-barrier test to investigate the interaction between the seat's occupants and vehicle's interior and to assess the strength of the seat's anchorages. Sled tests simulating frontal impacts were also performed to evaluate the protection performance of AFFCR, child safety harness and lap-sash seatbelt. Results indicated that excessive submarining was observed on the dummy seated directly on the additional seat, while the legs of the dummy restrained by the AFFCR heavily impacted the second-row seat back. Comparing the results, the risk of injury for the child sitting directly on the seat is greater than when secured in the AFFCR. While the seat anchorage performance was found acceptable, the seat latching-mechanism on the additional seat failed during testing. This study found that current additional seats provide less crash-protection compared to AFFCRs. Further research is being undertaken with the objective to improve and validate seat design and seat belt geometry to reduce the risk of injury to the occupant. Findings from this study will be used to justify changes to VSB-05