In response to our recently posted entry: UK Standard 3-1 boosters, are they safe?
We had a number of parents wondering about their 3-in-1 seat, with detachable back/bottom and the risk their seat may have of detaching in a similar manor to that shown in the video on the link above.
The answer is complicated but we will do our best to explain it to you and allow you to make your mind up about your car seat.
These seats DO meet standard, under UK ECE 44.03 or 44.04.
In the UK there are multiple “Testing Houses”, where you find a crash test sled, electronic equipment and engineers with crash analysis skills. These houses have various companies submitting their seats for testing, some will use the same company for many years.
When a seat is placed on the sled in rear or forward facing orientation they have to pass a “minimum” threshold for a range of different things, including G-force, the distance a seat moves from the sled during an impact, head excursion and so forth.
The minimum however is enough to basically say “the child remained within the seat during the test. The speed at which the test is done is quite low, and cannot reflect what would be the outcome in an open road car-hit-dear type impact.
While the shells are blow moulded, they are designed to take some of the force from the child, some of these seats meet only the minimum standard requirements reflected in the materials used, the lifespan applied (most of which do not state a duration, but realistically would not exceed 5-6 years). and largely the price applied at the checkout.
They are mass produced, they skim through testing, and when a problem occurs there is no one place to pin point, the seats have no single batch identifier and no original place of manufacture. They are made somewhere in China, and pass through a testing house somewhere in the UK.
If you have your doubts you’re probably right. We cannot (without building our own testing house, and testing each batch of seats as they come in, like they do with seats under NZ S 1754) test each of these 3 in 1 seats to see what the outcome is. The fact is that as the back is NOT attached to the bottom, rather pressure mounted, with the belt oddly threaded through the seat back, the seat belt retractor above off to one side of the seat, there is a likelihood that the seat back can detach under force.
Unfortunately aside from the video recording, we cannot tell you that your seat is or is not safe, rather that it comes under a parental decision until the likes of NZ Transport Agency pick up on it and investigate it further … we have initiated this process.
–As a addition to this, I do recall seeing a car seat off to the side after an accident (fatal) where a child had one of these seats, the seat was in 2 pieces on the ground next to the car. Though I cannot say for sure if they took it out like this, or if it was viewed by investigators and as part of this detached during their procedure. It was also not clear if the harness was still in the seat or if it was used as booster, the child was of age that a harness was still required.