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Car Seat Safety Certification Explained

Updated: Dec 2, 2023


highbacked booster being crash tested
highbacked booster being crash tested

There is more than one safety test that gets mentioned when talking about car seats. Here we clarify what the different tests mean and so hopefully demystifying the car seat buying process.


R44

The R44 car seat safety test was introduced in the 1980s. It was later updated in the 2000s to R44/04 or ECE R44/04. This test involves:

  • Frontal collision testing at a speed of 50km/h

  • Rear impact collision testing at 30km/h.

  • In Supplement 16 of R44 04 the seat is also subjected to a rollover test.

  • Uses the P-dummy family

  • 4 sensors placed on the crash dummy

These seats assess child suitability for the seat by weight. They are still legal even though the testing changed to a new standard. We sell a few, including the Joie Spin 360, which is tested to this regulation.


R129

This is the current safety standard which replaces R44. It is commonly known as i-Size. The focus of the test is to measure forces upon a child's chest in an accident. This test involves:

  • Frontal collisions testing at a speed of 50km/h

  • Rear impact collision testing at 30km/h. The seat is also subjected to a rollover test.

  • Dynamic test for side impact (new under this regulation)

  • Uses the new Q-Dummies series, which more closely represent the actual effects of a crash on the body of real children.

  • 32 sensors placed on the crash dummy

R129 means we now mainly assess children by height as well as weight for their car seats. This is a better way for fitting car seats. Another change brought in with i-Size is that infants up to 15 months have to be rear facing. Most car seats meet the i-Size safety standard. You can click here to find your next car seat.


ADAC

This is a randomised, impartial consumer safety test conducted to a higher standard than R129.

  • Frontal collision testing at a speed of 64km/h

  • Side impact collision impacts at a speed of 50km/h

  • Impact loads are measured on differently sized child dummies

It is important to note that the ADAC scores are not just about safety. They apportion 50% of the score for car seat safety results. The other 50% covers aspects such as user-friendliness, risk of misuse, comfort for the child, quality of the cover, craftsmanship, space in the car, the user manual, how easy cleaning is etc. We have a number of seats which have been tested by ADAC such as the Avionaut Max Space Comfort System high back booster.


Plus Test

The Swedish plus Test is a voluntary safety test manufacturers can put their seats through. The focus of the test is to measure the forces placed on a child's head and neck in an accident. This is known to be the toughest crash test in the world.

  • Testing at a speed of 56km/h

  • Short stopping distance of 11cm

  • Impact loads are measured specifically on the crash dummy's neck

The Plus Test reinforces the idea that rear facing is safest for your child. We advocate keeping your child rear facing for as long as possible and hold a selection of Swedish plus tested car seats which you can find by clicking the link here.




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