Why Are Kiddy Car Seats So Safe?

The Original Kiddy Impact Shield offers a child excellent protection in the event of an impact.

The risks of a child having serious injuries to their cervical spine is significantly reduced in a head on impact, thanks to the technology in our unique Kiddy Impact Shield.

Tests show that in a head on collision, conventional 5 point harness systems keep the child's trunk and shoulders pinned back in the seat. A crash creates large forces which are sent into the child's body to the area around the neck and head. Thus a conventional 5 point harness causes huge loads on the child's spinal column, and causes the brain to move inside the head. 

Impact shield technology tests have shown that allowing the child's shoulders to naturally move forwards in the event of an accident, means that acceleration on the head area is dramatically reduced. This reduces the loads on the region around the neck by 50%. The way the top half of the child's body moves over the impact shield is more natural, thus the forces created are distributed more evenly throughout the child's body. The energy created during the crash is dissipated through the impact shield, and is spread over a wider area, into the special shock absorbing gels hidden inside.

Our special impact shield technology is the reason why Kiddy car seats outperform conventional 5 point harness car seats, and repeatedly come top in tests by top European independent consumer testing laboratories.

Why do Kiddy Impact Shield Seats Outperform Extended Rear Facing Seats In Independent Testing?

Extended Rear Facing (ERF) seats are becoming more widely available in the UK. However, ERF seats are not necessarily the safest car seats in either the Group 0+ or Group 1 categories.

Initially, a baby is safer in a good quality rear facing Group 0+ infant carrier which is built specifically for a baby, rather than in an ERF seat which is designed to encompass a wider age span. Kiddy infant carriers are certified for use with a baby until approx 15 months old (13 kg). Therefore an infant carrier should be used to the maximum capacity before changing to any next stage car seat, whether you choose to extended rear face or you prefer to turn your child forward facing. This will give the child time to develop and grow during the most important months.

When a baby out grows their infant carrier, there is a choice to continue rear facing or turn the child forward facing.

The answer to this, is that it depends from what direction your vehicle is hit from! This is something which you can never predict.

Yes, ERF seats can be safer in frontal impacts if you choose the very best type (from independent testing) and providing it’s been fitted correctly and is compatible with your car!, however forward facing car seats with impact shields undeniably offer better ALL ROUND PROTECTION for a child than ERF seats currently can. As European safety tests have repeatedly shown, thanks to the technologies the impact shields seats closely matches the frontal performance of ERF’s, and yet considerably outperform them in side and rear impact collisions.

For this reason, Kiddy's forward facing impact shield car seats have been crowned Test Winners by independent consumer organisations such as Which? Stiftung Warentest, TCS and Öamtc. Kiddy is proud of the fact that our Group 1 PhoenixFix Pro2 car seat has been unbeaten for several years and tops the Which? Best Buy's chart with the best test results EVER achieved for a child car seat. The PhoenixFix Pro 2 also received the first ever 'Outstanding' from the TCS; and the highest results EVER from ADAC and Stiftung Warentest. These independent safety testing houses, who all use rigorous safety testing methods, cannot all be wrong! Our other Kiddy car seats have also won numerous awards for safety in independent safety testing.

Meanwhile a 5 times safer claims from ERF campaigners has been constructed by a certain marketing teams, yet they only focus one type of impact!, and so it is easily proven that 5 x safer is inaccurate simply by looking at where ERF seats appear in independent testing results. If ERF seats were really 5 times safer, then this would be reflected in these independent crash tests.

Protecting a child from a side impact is vitally important. Side impact crashes can be some of the most horrific, and are the incidents that police and fire officers dread. They are extremely damaging partly because the driver or passenger has little or no warning. There is often no time for the driver to react by braking or trying to evade collision. Therefore the driver cannot minimise any potential injury or damage. A vehicle offers minimal protection from the worst effects of a side impacts. There is only the thickness of a door between an oncoming vehicle and the passenger, with no bonnet or boot to bear the brunt of the impact. Even side impact airbags cannot protect a child from serious injury in a side-impact collision.

These horrific side impact crashes are why side impact test have now been introduced into the i-Size & ECE R44/04 testing. However Kiddy has been researching and considering side impacts for many years and have always been developing its seats with all types of accidents in mind. The independent consumer test organisations also include side impact testing! The existing test protocols they use are considered to be even more stringent than the tests recently introduced into i-Size and ECE R44/04.

Some ERF campaigners argue these seats lose safety ratings in the consumer tests due to the difficulty of the installation, but now with the introduction of isofix to ERF this is no longer a valid claim. They also claim that high speed rear shunts never occur. In November 2011 on the M5 a number of people died and many more were injured in a multiple pile ups, where vehicles were ploughed into from behind. There have also been other similar high speed rear impact accidents recently on the M40 and A249. A rear shunt in an ERF seat is the equivalent of being hit from the front in a forward facing car seat, however ERF’s don’t perform well in these types of impacts due to the lack of support against the vehicle seat backrest offered by the small support trays or bars. ERF seats will therefore rotate more in the event of such impacts and yet currently test speeds in R44/04 and i-Size are too low to fully understand how they really perform.

Children in Sweden commonly rear face until they are age 4 or 5 (25kgs). The deaths of children in car accidents is very low in Sweden, thus researchers have considered why this must be.

A child's body is developing and growing, so a child needs different protection to an adult in the event of a crash. The protection the seat gives the child, and the direction the child faces in relation to their weight is important.

A young child’s head is relatively heavy to the rest of their body, and there neck muscles are not fully developed. In a rear impact a child’s head and neck is supported by the backrest of the rear facing car seats, thus reducing the loads on the neck.

Numerous studies and comparisons of car accidents involving children who were using rearward and forward facing seats have been made; these reports concluded that they are 5 times less likely in a frontal impact to suffer a spinal injury when rearward facing in the car.

This video made by Folksham was used to prove how much safer ERF seats are: http://www.folksam.se/testergodarad/barnibil/1.74323

However you can clearly see the forward facing seats they used do not have an internal harness or protection shield. The comparison they actually make is v's a high back booster seats which here in the UK are not approved for Group 1 use!

Forward facing seats with impact shields are not sold in Sweden. So it is VITAL to note that this research in Sweden which reports ERF seats as being safer is not a direct comparison to protection shield technologies! And that all other various studies available online - only refer to one type of impact!

Research also proves that the risks of serious spinal injuries are significantly reduced in a head on collision, thanks to our shield technology.

In a frontal collision test show that because the child’s shoulders can move forward with the head (therefore eliminating the whipping effect) that head acceleration is considerably reduced and the forces on the neck are significantly decreased by up to 50%. The child’s upper body now follows a more natural movement (more like if they were falling over) and therefore forces are more evenly distributed throughout the child’s body. The energy created is transferred into the shield and spread over a larger surface area into our special shock absorbing gels which are hidden inside.

Throughout the rest of Europe seats with protection shield technology have been sold for decades with no reports of serious or fatal injuries.

Meanwhile, detailed anatomical research studies made so to inform the decision makers behind the new i-Size regulations have also determined that the bone density of a child by 15 month olds of age is sufficient for children to forward face! This explains why i-Size rear facing was only made compulsory to rearward face up to 15months of age!

It is impossible to compare the demographics of the two countries: UK and Sweden. These countries are very different from one another. Just look at these facts;

84,000 miles roads
449,964 km2
9.6 million population
1500 traffic lights
1500 roundabouts
5 million cars

245,000 miles road
243,610 km2
64.1 million population
25,000 traffic lights
25,000 roundabouts
34 million cars

It is therefore no surprise that 61% of all accidents in the UK take place at a junction!

In 2013, there were 1713 road fatalities in the UK, yet there were just 263 in Sweden. This difference in results is largely because the Swedish government has also been working very hard to reduce road accidents with the number of road deaths dropping by four fifth's. This was actually achieved by vast improvements in Sweden's road network.

Another critical factor in child car safety is the size of the car the child is travelling in, and also the space around the child car seat. One of the biggest changes to cars with introduction of i-Size is more space around the car seats, to keep them safer in the event of an accident especially from the side where door intrusion may occur. However, the Swedes are already ahead of us in the UK. Whereas we have smaller cars, the Swedes have large cars like Volvos, with plenty of space inside.

It is important to understand how a car is designed.

A vehicle is split up by 3 main column’s; Column A (the front pillar and engine bay), Column B (the centre column where the front and rear doors meet) and Column C (the rear of the car - boot space).

At column A (the front with engine bay) and B (the rear with boot) there its lots of space for crumple zones and other technologies, however from the side column B there is only approximately 8 inches of space, which significantly restricts car manufacturers with the possibilities of protection technologies in side this zone of the vehicle.

The B column (where the front and rear doors meet) is approximately 6-8 inches wide and 3/4 inch thick. This column is considered to be the weakest structure in the car.

When using an extended rear facing car seats the position of the child head is now closest to Column B. Additionally the centre of gravity of the ‘child and seat’ is now much further away from the ISOFIX mounts in the car, and also the back rest of the child seat is no longer in contact with the rear seat – only a small support tray or bar is use. In combination together the results are that the ERF seats move considerably more in a side impact (jolting the child’s head and neck more) when compared to forward facing seats; and also will rotate towards the back window in the event of a rear shunt. This unwelcome negative effect is intensified as the child increases in weight.

Whilst car manufacturers have strengthened the “safety cage” of their cars, and have reinforced door pillars; side impact protection technology is still a long way behind front-impact safety protection. At the same time, companies are being forced to make more fuel efficient cars which are lighter and thus making side impacts more challenging.

61% of accidents in the UK take place at a junction
This means that the chance of being hit from the side is high.

The Swedish test is a car seat safety test which is unique to Sweden. Kiddy do not currently sell car seats in Sweden, thus there is no requirement for our seats to undergo this testing procedure.

Car seats in the UK and the rest of Europe have to conform to the ECE R44/04 or i-Size R129 safety test to go on sale.

Organisations like ADAC, Stiftung Warentest, Öamtc, TCS are regarded in central Europe of being the hierarchy of independent child car seat testing. Their test protocols are more rigorous using more modern testing dummies and they look more to the Euro NCAP (testing on cars) as there guide, which include: harder front impact; additional side and rear impact testing.

They also give consideration to the ergonomics for the child and other occupants; and the space in the car. We feel that these tests give a more objective rating for how a child safety restraint really performs in all types of impacts. These elements are reflected in the new i-Size testing.

It is clear that a good ERF seat, correctly fitted and in the right car, in a frontal impact does offer great protection for your child!

BUT It is important when choosing a car seat for your child to look at all the factors which will give your child the best possible protection in the event of an accident. Look beyond the marketing hype of companies and do your own research as we have done and so did the independent consumers test organisations.

It is very clear that the arguments for ERF is constructed to one kind of impact, they are not like-for-like in terms of the country, the type of seats we use, the size or kind of cars we are driving and the type of impacts we may be confronted with!

The only research currently done which gives a like-for-like comparison are those tests by the leading car seat safety testing houses. These CLEARLY show that car seats with impact shields, including those made by Kiddy, outperform ERF seats in overall performance every time.

Choosing the right seat is a complex decision which should not be made based on one type of impact, there are so many other points that have to be considered. Our advice to you as a parent is read the safety tests made by Which? ADAC, Stiftung Warentest, Öamtc and TCS; and then ask yourself can they all be wrong?

Our excellent all round protection for your child is one reason why Kiddy seats with impact shield technologies continually outperform ERF seats, and explains why they come top in independent testing, no matter from what direction an impact occurs.

Thus we would suggest that giving your child the best ALL ROUND protection in a test proven, award winning, 'top of its class' Kiddy car seat, would be a safer bet than choosing an ERF seat.

Start your comparison test at Which? www.which.co.uk

Select / compare all seats that have 1 in the group and additionally select i-Size, now all seats that are used for a toddler can be easily compared in performance order.

Kiddy will always welcome new designs, standards and are continually looking for new materials, new technology and new information to improve the protection of children in cars. As i-Size develops and as changes are made to the standard or when new materials or solutions are found, it is possible that one day Kiddy will produce an i-Size seat or a new and even safer solution!