(04/11/14) - Child safety seats in cars could be more reliable thanks to
research being conducted at Kettering University in Flint.
For the past nine years, Kettering has operated a test sled in the basement of one of its building.
They've been putting crash test dummies through the paces, and they recently began working with a special dummy.
Kettering has obtained a child-sized device to study how side impacts affect small children. The device, called Q3s, represents a 3-year-old child. It's the same size and weight of a 3 year old.
"He's only one of four in North America right now because of the development, how long it takes to make him. They're all handcrafted, something called Humanetics makes the crash test dummy. They all have to be the same so no matter where you test, you end up getting the same results. He's a state of the art crash test dummy, made specifically for side impacts," said Janet Brelin-Fornari, Ph.D., Kettering University professor.
In a demonstration Friday morning, the device scooted down the track at 30 miles an hour.
Electronic devices inside the dummy can measure head and neck trauma during a crash. Infrared sensors in the chest detect forces acting on the ribs.
The research will be passed along to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Eventually, child safety seat makers will have to meet standards set by the federal government based on Kettering's research.
The work being done with the dummy and on child car safety seats is grabbing worldwide attention.
"International companies come where you're standing to conduct research here," said Robert McMahan, Jr., Ph.D., Kettering University president.
The U.S. Department of Transportation will soon issue new standards on how safe a child's seat must be in a side impact crash.
The standards will come from the research Kettering is doing.
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