Why car companies often use a Britax car seat in crash safety testing
With Britax car seats the most popular choice of car manufacturers in crash tests, we wanted to find out more about what the company does that’s different on safety. As Group Technical Director, Farid Bendjellal is the man who signs off on Britax’s safety work. He joined Britax in 2003 and previously worked on safety at a carmaker.
How difficult is it to test and develop car seats for children?
The human body is a complex machine and the test dummies are really a big simplification. Adult dummies are kind of at an acceptable level, but not long ago the child dummies were really just something used to test the restraints are capable of withholding the forces during a crash. They couldn’t reproduce the way the body of a baby or a three-year-old responds during a crash.
How does Britax test the safety of its car seats?
Britax uses the most advanced dummies available: the Q-Series, even though the regulatory tests still use the older P-Series. The Q-dummies behave more like humans. We do a lot of experiments, build a lot of mathematical simulations and feed them into our engineering to enable us to propose better solutions.
Why do so many car manufacturers use your car seats in their crash tests?
Obviously we’re happy that they’re using our seats, and I think 80 to 90% of the cars tested by Euro NCAP use our seats. They’re free to choose any supplier and they do comparison tests and essentially most just find that the safety score they can obtain with our seats is better.
They’re looking for a seat that performs well in crashes, that installs easily and that has high quality. It also has to be consistently available in the region where the car sells.
How closely do you work with car makers?
We don’t do specific development with a single car manufacturer – we’re not designing seats for one make or model. Our seats have to work in a huge number of cars. We need to be aware of future models for the sake of installation and how any new regulations could affect us and them.
Britax has done a lot of work with car companies for example on the new i-Size regulation, which places requirements on the design of the car’s floor where the seat’s support leg sits. In future, if the car has an underfloor storage compartment, the cover will have to offer the same sort of support as a normal floor.
We have also worked with a seatbelt supplier to help them understand how the Q-dummy responds when the child seat is restrained using seatbelts with pretensioners. Sometimes it’s just testing work, but usually when we work together it’s all about future standards and future thinking.
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