Project: Child Seat Consumer Information: Protocol Validation

Reference: S0433/V8

Last update: 08/09/2010 13:52:09


The aim of this project is to:
i) validate the test protocols and rating scheme developed within the NPACS research project, and
ii) where necessary, suggest improvements to test characteristics and scenario, assessment criteria, performance limits and rating scheme such that valid, objective, unambiguous and independent guidance can be published with respect to the relative performance of child seats.
iii) Rate a number of child seats to validated NPACS protocols.


The universal category child restraint is almost unique as a safety device in that its installation and safety performance is dependant on the local environment into which it is fitted, i.e. the car. The ability to transfer this safety device from vehicle to vehicle is an essential characteristic. Thus it is seen as important to be able to assess how well child restraint systems (CRS) perform when fitted to a range of vehicle seats and how easy it is to correctly install in a vehicle environment. There are currently a number of assessment methods and rating schemes in use within Europe to provide consumers with advice on the selection of child seats but they produce differing results and hence conflicting advice. This is confusing and it is considered that a single well-founded assessment method would have significant advantages to both consumers and manufacturers, providing a market for safety improvements in child seat design leading to an increase in child occupant safety.

The New Programme for the Assessment of Child restraint Systems (NPACS) research project was designed to provide the test methods and assessment protocols through which independent guidance to consumers on the relative performance of child seats could be made available. Scientifically based, objective test methods have been established for the assessment of child seat usability and dynamic crash performance in both frontal and side impacts. The relevance of these methods has been established by researching latest child seat and vehicle designs together with trends from field accident databases. A rating scheme, based upon the new test methods, has been developed to enable clear guidance to be provided. The test methods, together with the rating scheme, will be used to develop a well founded and effective consumer information programme.

This new project will initially validate the NPACS protocols and, in particular, establish the level of repeatability and reproducibility provided by the assessment. A second phase of this project will subject a number of child seats, available to UK consumers, to the NPACS tests to ensure the rating discriminates between good and bad performing CRS. These results will form the basis of a consumer information programme, which may be implemented on a national or international basis.


TRL Limited
Crowthorne House, Nine Mile Ride, Wokingham, Berkshire, RG40 3GA
+44 (0)1344 773131

Contract details

Cost to the Department: £275,916.50

Actual start date: 01 September 2006

Actual completion date: 30 July 2008


Child seat consumer information project : protocol validation
Author: TRL Ltd M Pitcher, C Halewood, J A Carroll, O Goodacre, E Fraser, T Gibson, A M McGrath and M Le Claire
Publication date: 10/04/2008
Source: PPR 339,, 01344 773131
More information:

Child seat consumer information (CSCI) : Impact Assessment
Author: TRL Ltd J A Carroll, M Pitcher, C Halewood and M Le Claire
Publication date: 10/04/2008
Source: CPR 028, Available from DfT
More information: