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In a crash like this, the g forces can turn a 10-kilogram child into a 600-kilogram flying weight.  The force can pull so hard on the harness that the child seat itself will be damaged.  After being used in a serious crash, a child seat ALWAYS needs to be replaced. 

But what if you have been involved in a more moderate collision?  Will your child seat still be safe to use?  ICBC tested child seats in 15-kilometer-an-hour crashes, like the ones being conducted here, to determine low-speed vehicle damageability by Spanish Insurance Company.

The tests were conducted by mounting a series of child seats on the crash sled with 9-month and 3-year-old dummies. 

A variety of seats were tested, which included all popular configurations and most major brands.  The test seats ranged in age from new born to 10 years old.  Average amounts of belt slack observed by examiners during child seat inspection clinics were applied to the seats.  The sled was then pulled into a barrier at 15 kilometers an hour.  The crash pulse and force data from full car crash tests were duplicated on the sled device.  The tests were run over and over again, until each seat had been crashed 50 times.  The seats were then replaced and another series of crashes run.  In all, more than 400 seat crashes were conducted. 

Each crash was monitored by high-speed video and by sensors recording the effects.  The occupants experienced deceleration forces of ten times the force of gravity.  Seats were visually inspected during and after the test series.  No damage was found on any of the seats.  The seats were then given further tests to check for more subtle, non-visible damage. 

Three seats were x-rayed to check for invisible stress cracks in the plastic shell.  The x-rays showed no damage.  Three more seats were tested to see if they still complied with federal government safety standards for brand new seats, including a simulated 48-kilimeter-an-hour crash test.  After 50 low-speed crashes, the seats still met all the government requirements for new seats, so we know that child seats are not damaged in 15-kilometer-an-hour barrier crashes.

But how do you know if a particular crash is within these limits?  Virtually every new car is tested like this for insurance rating purposes.  The important result is not the impact speed, but the amount of damage on the vehicle.  These vehicles show typical damages, which will include the bumper, grill, and front sheet metal.  Internal damage may also be evident, but the internal damage will not extend beyond the wheels. 

Child seats are excellent safety devices.  They will reduce the chances of injury in a crash by 70 percent.  And they should be replaced after any serious accident.  These tests show that child seats are very durable in low speed crashes, which are far more common.  Even after 50 low-speed impacts, there is no damage to any of the seats in these tests.