Child restraint assessment methods explained

Protection in crash

CREP assesses the crash protection performance of child restraints using three simulated crash tests:

  1. Frontal impact test
  2. Side impact test
  3. Oblique impact test

In all tests, dummies which are equal to or above the upper end of the mass limit for each type of restraint are used to measure the forces experienced by the dummy during the test. The data gathered is then analysed and the restraints are scored based on several performance aspects.

Frontal impact test

The frontal impact test simulates a situation where a correctly restrained child is involved in a head-on crash with another car of similar mass travelling at the same speed.

In this test, the restraint with the restrained dummy is tested at a speed of 56 km/h and deceleration of 34 times the earth's gravity.

The restraint is evaluated in term of its ability to retain the dummy's head and torso, minimise the forward and upward motions of the dummy's head, manage the crash energy, maintain the restraints structural integrity, and ensure the harness buckle is still working properly after the test.

Side impact test

The side impact test simulates a situation where a correctly restrained child in a car is struck from the side (90 degrees) by another car of similar mass.

In this test, the restraint with the restrained dummy is tested at a speed of 32 km/h and deceleration of 20 times the earth’s gravity.

The restraint is evaluated in term of its ability to retain the dummy’s head and torso and maintain its structural integrity.

Oblique impact test

The oblique impact test simulates a situation where a correctly restrained child in a car is struck at an angle (66 degrees) by another car of similar mass.

In this test, the restraint with the restrained dummy is tested at a speed of 32 km/h and deceleration of 20 times the earth’s gravity.

The restraint is evaluated in term of its ability to retain the dummy’s head and torso and maintain its structural integrity.

Ease of correct use

CREP also assesses restraints' performance in term of how easy they are to use correctly. The assessment methods were originally taken from methods developed by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). However, the Australian protocol expands on those used in the NHTSA method and includes additional assessments of features. These primarily relate to the product packaging and an assessment of any feature modified from the base model.

This method requires each feature listed within five categories to be assessed individually which include:

  • Packaging
  • Instructions
  • Labels
  • Securing/releasing the child, and
  • Securing/releasing the restraint within the vehicle (the latter was not used for booster ratings).

Each feature is scored on a scale of excellent, good, above average, average and meets AS/NZ Standard. Each restraint is evaluated by a single expert assessor. A second expert then independently performs an audit on a small sample of the restraints. A panel then compares the results and where appropriate, reviews the assessment criteria and ratings for all restraints.