The above video is from our rear and forward facing crash tests based on UN ECE R44/4 and UN ECE R129 test regulations, to demonstrate the consequences of a toddler in a collision with their arms removed from the protection of the child car seat harness. The rig was set up in full accordance of the standard and then the dummy replicated the behaviour of many children, its arms were pushed through the gap that children exploit to pull the harness off their shoulders.
In the forward facing seat you can see how far the child travels forward. In a standard car, the child would have hit the seat in front with potentially lethal consequences. Also, note how the harness straps that should have been on the shoulders dig in to the sides of the child. Finally, the main release buckle penetrated the dummy’s abdomen. This would have resulted in severe internal injury to the child’s organs.
If the collision was a side impact, as opposed to head on, the dummy’s head would have travelled through the glass of the door.
Even in a rear facing child car seat in a frontal impact collision, the toddler is at risk of severe life threatening or life changing injuries as the rebound from the impact is still huge.
There were 2,016 reported injuries of children aged between 0 and 4 years old whilst travelling in a car, of which 126 were killed or seriously injured (source Department of Transport, United Kingdom 2008).
We do not know the split of injuries due to car seat not fitted correctly and misuse of car seat. However, these are reported figures and will understate the size of the problem. Parents may not report injuries for a number of reasons, including thinking that the injury due to sharp braking is simply superficial.
These types of injuries could be reduced if child car seats were fitted with the “5 point plus” anti escape system as this would help keep the child in the correct position prior hard braking or impact (see how 5 point plus works).