MILWAUKEE -- The safest way to install a child's car seat was the subject of testing Wednesday, February 8th. Researchers measured how far a child's head moves on impact, depending on how well they're strapped in.
This information, researchers said, is especially important considering a 2011 federal study found 46 percent all car seats in this country are installed incorrectly. They said they hope the testing will encourage parents to make sure they're doing it right.
This testing was meant to ensure parents properly use every feature of their child's car seat -- particularly the tether strap.
"This is where we attach our tether," said Han Hauschild, Medical College of Wisconsin senior research engineer, as he demonstrated how to strap in a tether when the anchor is on the back of the passenger seat.
"Typically, you either route it up over like this ,or some of them get routed through here if it's a single tether," Hauschild said.
The test run focused on front-facing car seats, with a dummy representing a three-year-old child.
The high-tech, high-pressure test simulated a side impact at about 22 miles-per-hour.
"The injuries that occur in side impact are typically higher-severity than they are with frontal impact," said Hauschild.
Using numerous sensors and cameras, the researchers measured how the child's head moved.
Once everything was in place, the crew was able to analyze the impact from every angle. Images and data were downloaded within minutes.
The researchers said the tests are the foundation of future regulations and innovations.
"It is important for us to present a series of studies like this to not only the federal government, but also the manufacturers to implement some changes," said Dr. Frank Pinter, Medical College of Wisconsin neurosurgery professor.
Because car seats vary and the cars themselves place the anchors for the tether straps differently, the researchers said it's important to keep the owner's manual handy for both.
2017 is the final year of a four-year study.