Not much, apparently. At least not in this case.
Recent feasibility testing of NHTSA’s proposed side-impact test, conducted by Consumer Reports, has found that the Q3 side-impact test dummy isn’t useful in evaluating the protection offered by rear-facing only seats (aka infant carseats). The reason? This dummy, which is meant to be the size of an average 3-year-old, is too big to fit in these seats. The head of the Q3 dummy extends beyond the protective confines of the shell. Clearly that’s bad from an injury risk standpoint. You never want the top of a child’s head to extend above the top of a rear-facing carseat. And you would think that this would translate into very high injury readings in the crash testing – but they actually found the opposite result. What the… ????
“Our tests showed that when the dummy’s head extended beyond the shell portion of the infant seat, the injury data also tended to be lower—despite the greater injury risk. Therefore, based on this data, we concluded that side-impact protection on these seats might be overrated. This is because, while the design would not actually provide improved impact safety, the data would be skewed by allowing for greater head excursion outside of the shell.”
Read the full article here: More Change Needed for Car Seat Side-Impact Protection
Based on their findings, we agree with Consumer Reports that using the Q3 dummy in NHTSA’s proposed Side-Impact Test would be of little value in determining the protection offered by rear-facing only infant seats. Q3 is well-suited to test convertible seats in the rear-facing position but a smaller dummy that is similarly instrumented should be utilized to appropriately gauge the SIP provided by rear-facing only child restraints. We never want to unintentionally create a situation where manufacturers are “designing for the test” at the expense of performance in real world side-impact crashes.
To learn more about NHTSA’s proposed Side-Impact Test see our comprehensive article here: NHTSA’s Proposed Side-Impact Testing Standard – the good, the bad and the interesting