From Indycar to Child Safety Seats: Race Car Technology May Save Infant LivesCar Accidents on June 8, 2011
Child seat manufacturer Dorel is joining forces with an IndyCar supplier to produce what may be the safest child safety seats yet, reports the The New York Times. After noticing how IndyCar drivers can escape from 200 m.p.h. crashes seemingly harmless, Dorel executives have inquired into whether the same technology that protects IndyCar drivers can be applied to child safety seats. As a result, Dorel is now developing seats that use a proprietary foam called expanded polypropylene, or E.P.P, and should become available in 2012. This foam is incredibly absorbent because its spreads the impact of a crash through the foam so that pressure in a single area is absorbed throughout the foam. Also, the foam springs back, making it ready for additional impact. Another feature is that the foam weighs less, resulting in lighter seats.
This is a meaningful development considering motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 2-12 year olds, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. However, even with the new and improved seats, parents still have to take an initiative to fully ensure the safety of their child. The Board’s research shows that although 96 percent of parents who use child safety seats believe they are using them correctly, check ups show that 4 out of 5 parents unintentionally made mistakes that could result in the child being injured or killed in a crash. As a response, the Board issued some safety tips to ensure that parents are taking the correct steps in using safety seats.
- A child should use a rear-facing seat until they are at least 1 year old and at least 20 pounds.
- A forward-facing seat with a harness should be used after the child outgrows the rear-facing seat. The child should use this seat until they are 40 pounds or their ears reach the top of the seat.
- A booster seat should be used when the child outgrows the forward-facing seat. The child should use this seat until they are 4- years old or are 4 feet, 9 inches.
- The adult lap and shoulder belts should fit properly. The seat belt should lie across the chest and between the neck and arm, and the lap belt must be across the upper thighs, not the soft stomach.
- An adult lap and shoulder belt can be used if the child is tall enough to sit against the back of the car’s seat with their legs bent at the knees with the feet hanging down.
The death and injury rates should decline once the new seats are out on the market. However, parents still must be proactive in making sure the seats are being used properly.