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Crash Test Dummies Failed the Test!

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The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) says it will hold off on some proposed car seat regulations until the dummies which are used in crash tests can better “mimic real children”[1][1]. Problems with the crash dummies have caused NHTSA to propose some regs for children over 65 lbs. which leaves a whole lot of children under 65 lbs. somewhat in the lurch. In essence, this means federal regulations for automobile booster/car seats do not accurately protect our children.

What made the dummies fail? According to the NHTSA, the dummy’s neck is too stiff to really recreate accurately the kind of response a child’s neck would have to a crash—this would “skew the amount of crash force the child’s head would experience” in the crash tests. And the dummy’s body is too straight and apparently too stiff to react as a child’s would in crash circumstances. Also according to the NHTSA, there are differences in the friction that would occur on a live child, between the seatbelt and the child’s clothed chest, and the friction between the seatbelt and the clothed chest of the dummy and they do not accurately mimic those which would exist for those of a live child—and these differences could cause a variance in the response (body-to-seatbelt) that would render the tests inaccurate or considered not a good simulation. In addition, the results of seatbelt fit measurements on a dummy as compared with a child could vary too much to be considered reliable.

In the opinion of Katherine Shaver of The Washington Post, “That’s because the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has yet to develop a lifelike child crash test dummy that can accurately ensure that seats for heavier children provide the protections promised. …Problems with developing child dummies are also a key reason why seats for all children have no federal requirements for effectiveness in side-impact, rear-end and rollover collisions, car seat experts said.”

This blogger would like to know where the current dummy was manufactured? China?



[1][1] The Washington Post, March 13, 2011, “Crash Dummy Doesn’t Make the Grade”,