What Happens to a Car Seat in an Accident?
Due to inertia (the tendency of a body in motion to stay in motion), when the vehicle stops suddenly, objects and people in the vehicle continue to move at the same speed and direction as the vehicle before the moment impact. This can result in extreme forces occurring at all points of contact between a person and their vehicle seat. If occupants are not snug, this will add to the "G" forces that their vulnerable bodies will have to absorb, as they move still further until they reach the restraints.
During a side impact crash the distance between the impact zone and a child's car seat can be quite small if the car seat is next to a door. The resulting impact area collapses into the interior of the car, along with broken glass, plastic, etc. At the same time the car seat is being violently thrust away from and then into the impact zone!
The resulting impact forces and whipping action can produce severe trauma to a child's head and neck, resulting in far more serious harm to a baby or child than from front or rear end collisions. Unfortunately the mortality rate also increases.
Most automobile accidents are from front or rear end collisions however side impact crashes are typically the most deadly for children. Statistics from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in the U.S. show that side impact crashes represent approximately 25% of all motor vehicle accidents. Unfortunately they result in some of the most severe injuries and mortality rates, and the most vulnerable are children.
Combined, side impact injuries occurred in 14.6/1000 children and 26.8% of crashes. According to PCPS: Children in belt positioning boosters were at a 58% reduction in risk of injury than those in seat belts in side impact crashes. (Annual Proceedings of the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine, 2005.)
Partners for Child Passenger Safety • www.chop.edu/service/car-seat-safety-for-kids/index.html