The first day at the Kidz in Motion conference was an interesting one.  It was a mixture of seeing old faces from Lifesavers and new ones, either because they never made it to Lifesavers or because they got lost in the shuffle of Lifesavers.  KIM is a much smaller conference.  Manufacturers represented so far are Chicco, Evenflo, Graco, SafeGuard, and Sunshine Kids.

To start off the conference, Marilyn Bull presented her study from last year on rear-facing for best protection.  The researchers took children ages 0-23 months from 1988-2003 from the NASS-CDS database of fatal and nonfatal crashes and looked at the risk of injury for rear-facing vs. forward-facing.  What was found is that a 1 year old is 6 times less likely to die if s/he is rear-facing.  They did find in the study that rear-facing provides a significant benefit in side impacts since the head remains protected within the shell of the car seat. 

For those of you read the study last year, this is old news.  Dr. Bull did address a common myth that I feel is worthy of commenting on here: the myth that a child’s feet touching the back seat in a crash will cause more injury to the child.  Big fat NOPE!  She has found that injuries actually run about 1 per 1000 child and are actually concentrated in the head area, followed by the torso.  I’ll create a drawing to demonstrate the graphic she showed.   rf vs. ff injuries found in M. Bull study

My guess behind the injuries being concentrated in the head area for rear-facing children are for 2 reasons: 1. they are too tall for the rear-facing seat they are in (infant seat, most likely), and/or 2. the harness is too loose and they ramp up the seat and strike the front seat or center console.

Some vehicle manufacturers presented during the Vehicle Manufacturer and Exhibitor Panel session.  The Ford representative was there and she explained how proactive Ford is being regarding testing of LATCH anchors.  To that end, all model year 2009 Ford vehicles will allow use of nonstandard spacing inboard anchors for the center seating positions up to 520mm wide as long as the car seat manufacturer allows it.

The Honda representative ran through a brief presentation of all of the safety features Honda includes in its vehicles.  One of the features Honda includes with every vehicle is a 15 year unconditional seat belt replacement.  If, for any reason, your seat belt needs to be replaced in your Honda vehicle, they’ll do it as long as it’s within the time frame.  Honda and Acura owners can also read owner’s manuals online.  Honda owners can click here: www.ahm-ownerlink.comAcura owners can click here: www.owners.acura.com.

One topic the Honda rep did mention is the use of nonstandard spacing inboard LATCH anchors for the center seating position.  Honda is firm in its policy that this must NOT be done in their vehicles.  The rep said that the way they’ve interpreted FMVSS 225 (that’s the standard that governs LATCH in vehicles for those of you scratching your heads) is that for there to be lower LATCH anchors in the center seating position, there must be a separate set of anchors there, properly spaced 280mm apart.  They’ve discussed it with NHTSA and this is what their understanding is.  The 2009 Pilot and Ridgeline have LATCH 3-across (the Pilot has 4 LATCH positions).

Through SafetyBeltSafe USA, a non-profit organization dedicated to child passenger safety, Toyota offers a great top tether anchor retrofit program for any pre-2001 Toyota or Lexus that can be retrofitted with tether anchors.  For a mere $5 donation per tether anchor, you can have a Toyota dealer retrofit a tether anchor for you.  That’s a steal when you compare that you can buy the part for around $15 in the parts department or pay close to $50 for the service department to install it.  Please see Darren’s entry for more information on this fabulous program.

My last session was The Challenges of Testing CRs to FMVSS 213 (that’s the standard that governs car seats).  Bill Forbes from Evenflo covered crash dynamics, dummies, and, of course, 213.  I liked the brief reminder of physics–it reminded me of high school science class (ah, as if all of high school science could have been condensed down into a 3 bullet slide on Newton’s laws . . .).  Anyway, nostalgia aside, the law we deal with the most is Newton’s 2nd: F=ma or, more simply put, Force = weight x speed.  I use this formula all the time. 

There isn’t a checkup event where I don’t teach it to a parent.  I taught my 8 yr old son the equation the other day when there was an airplane on the news that had hit a bird while flying.  I’m not sure it applied exactly, but he got the idea why there was so much damage done to the plane.

Why is the 30 mph crash test required by 213 a decent test?  It’s so slow.  It’s not real world.  Cars move much faster in real life.  I drive 45 mph on the street . . . I drive 65 mph on the freeway.  Well, you’re right.  This test isn’t real world–it’s better.  The 30 mph crash pulse is greater than 98% of all crashes.  It’s a very stiff test.  How does it relate?

It’s like driving:
30 mph into a concrete bridge barrier or a
60 mph rear impact or a
30 mph head-on impact between 2 vehicles of the same size

Another point Bill made regarding 213 vs. the real world is that the vehicle belt on the test sled must be tensioned at 12-15 lbs.  I’m not sure how they measure that, but he said it’s not CPS tight, lol.  Surely not guitar string-twanging tight.

As an aside, an audience member if Evenflo does side impact testing and how many crash tests it takes to get a product to market.  Evenflo does do side impact testing and depending on the product, it can take 60 crash tests to certify or “validate” a seat before it hits the market.