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Monthly Archive:: March 2009

Dorel Apex 65 as a booster (Part VIII – Combo Seat Review Series)

I’ve decided to document how various combination (harness/booster) seats fit my 4-year-old, 41 lb, 43″ tall son in booster mode.  He’s at the size where most parents would be switching from the 5-pt harness to the vehicle’s lap/shoulder belt in booster mode if they had a combination seat with a 40 lb limit on the harness.  In each case I’ll use the same seating position in my van – driver’s side captain’s chair in a 2005 Ford Freestar.

The IIHS booster study compared the fit of various boosters using the 6-year-old Hybrid lll dummy who weighs 51.6 lbs (23.41 kg) and has a standing height of almost 45″.  I thought it would be even better to show belt fit on a child who was just over the 40 lb weight limit for the 5-pt harness.  I’ve decided to focus exclusively on combination seats because of their popularity.

This week we’ll be looking at the Dorel (Cosco/Safety 1st/Eddie Bauer) Apex 65 as a booster.  This seat has also been sold as the Alpha Elite Apex Booster.  To be honest, this seat shouldn’t qualify for review in this series because it is a higher-weight harness (HWH) seat.  My son could still use this seat with the harness.  He is no where near the 65 lb limit and still has plenty of growing room height-wise in the harness.  But I had this seat in the house and I wanted to try him in it in booster mode.  He is over the 40 lb minimum for booster usage so he could technically use this seat that way.

Over the Hill at Age 35?

I have a running joke.  It’s not all that funny, really, except in a dark sort of way.  When you’re involved in the field of occupant protection, you’re over the hill at 35.  Why?  According to the Centers for Disease Control, motor vehicle traffic is the #1 cause of death for age groups 5-9, 10-14, 15-24 and 25-34. *

What happens at 35?

Euro NCAP – leaving us in the dust (Part II)

Yesterday, in part I of this blog, we covered the 3 specific crash tests that are performed on European vehicles in their New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) - frontal offset, side impact, and side impact pole test.  Today, we’re going to dig a little deeper and examine the child occupant components of the Euro NCAP.  

Learning how other parts of the world are tackling the complex issues of child occupant protection can help give us some perspective on the shortcomings of our own NCAP program.  And, possibly, give us some ideas on how to move our program forward.  For more details on the US NCAP program check out our previous “Responding to the Tribune Article” blog.       

From the Euro NCAP website:

Euro NCAP has carried out a child occupant safety assessment since its very first test in 1997 to ensure that manufacturers take responsibility for the children traveling in their vehicles. In November 2003, Euro NCAP introduced a child occupant protection rating to provide clearer information for consumers about the results of these tests. As part of this assessment, Euro NCAP uses 18 month old and 3 year old sized dummies in the frontal and side impact tests. As well as studying the results from the impact tests, Euro NCAP verifies the clarity of instructions and seat installation in the vehicle to ensure that the child seat can be fitted safely and securely.  

Euro NCAP: Leaving us in the dust (Part I)

We spent all of last week trying to make some sense out of the issues relating to the Tribune article.  What happened?  Are we doing enough to ensure that our kids are safe?  Do we need more testing?  If so, how should we implement new tests and define testing parameters?  How would CR manufacturers comply with new regulations or supplemental tests?  Would new CR designs make seats harder to use properly and increase their prices substantially?   

I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers.  However, this problem of how best to protect occupants of all ages and sizes in motor vehicles isn’t just a problem for America – it’s a global issue.  Child restraints, laws, vehicle features and occupant restraint systems may vary from country to country but the same laws of physics apply to all of us.  Therefore, it makes sense to look at other parts of the world to see how they’re tackling these complex issues.   

After a little research – I’m sad to report that many other parts of the world are kicking our butts with their NCAP testing.  Europe, Japan and Australia all have superior NCAP programs.  I didn’t thoroughly research the Japanese or Australian programs but I did research the European NCAP and our own program is so many years behind that it’s embarrassing.  

Our vehicle testing regimen remains virtually the same now as it was when it began - in 1978.  The only major addition has been a wimpy, side-impact test that they added in 1996.  Honestly, if it wasn’t for the IIHS picking up the slack – we’d still be in the dark ages.   

Let’s take a closer look at the Euro NCAP program….