Car Seat Safety: Side-Impact Protection

Orbit Baby's car seats pass the most stringent side-impact tests available.

Side-impact protection is – and should be – a top concern of parents shopping for car seats. Unfortunately, it is also a subject that is misunderstood by consumers and misrepresented by manufacturers. Because there is no established standard for side-impact protection, Orbit Baby took the extra steps to ensure that our car seats are designed and engineered for maximum side-impact protection, and that they pass all relevant tests through an accredited independent laboratory.

Orbit Baby’s position on side-impact protection

Because an official federal standard for side-impact protection is not yet finalized, we sought out the best authority possible: the independent test laboratory that has been contracted by the US government to help develop its side-impact car seat standard.  Given their regulatory development work, we believe that they conduct the most stringent and relevant tests available.  Both Orbit Baby’s Infant Car Seat and Toddler Car Seat have been tested and have passed this independent laboratory’s standard.

At Orbit Baby, we are proud of our car seats’ best-in-industry structural engineering and materials, that have resulted from the design challenge of maximum side-impact protection. For example, no other infant car seat is shaped like ours because designing for maximum side-impact protection has resulted in our signature deep cradle design.  Orbit’s Toddler Car Seat similarly has high protection walls built into the design.  In addition, both the Infant and Toddler Car Seats exclusively use higher-grade EPP (Expanded PolyPropylene) as impact absorption foam, rather than the EPS (or styrofoam) more commonly used in car seats.

As another side-impact safety feature, Orbit Baby’s car seats are designed for industry-leading stability when installed in the car: our stay-in-the-car Base provides a wide and sturdy dock for both the Infant and Toddler Car Seats, and the Side Impact Braces™ of our Toddler Car Seat give it the widest effective footprint we have measured on any convertible car seat.  Finally, our SmartHub™ docking system is the industry’s only interface for multi-directional impact protection: four radial latches around the seat lock into the circumference of the steel SmartHub ring to ensure the seat is secure in an impact from any angle.

Side-impact protection: further discussion

According to the Partners for Child Passenger Safety, critical injuries to children in vehicle collisions are most common in side-impact crashes.  A report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that 42% of car accident fatalities of children under 8 years old occur because of side-impact collisions.

Considering the importance of side-impact protection, many parents are surprised that the US government does not have standards in place for this aspect of child safety.  However, there are ongoing efforts to define a side-impact car seat standard by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In addition, there are drafts in progress for side-impact standards by the International Standardization Organization (ISO) and governments of other countries.

Consumers will find that some other major car seat brands have developed their own side-impact tests and even implied that they are “official” standards.  At Orbit Baby, we feel that advertising these self-generated standards as official is a misrepresentation.  While there are still no official government side-impact standards, we have simplified the consumers’ choice of car seats by pursuing independent testing by the laboratory most relevant to any future US side-impact certification. 

Orbit Baby’s ground-up side-impact design innovations, coupled with our third-party testing, put our car seats on the leading edge of child safety on the market.  We are committed to being a leader in side-impact protection by redesigning baby products the way they should be, instead of the way they have always been.

More information

Stokes Research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia on Car Seat Safet - Keeping Kids Safe During Crashes

“ ‘Side impacts are the second most common fatal crash type after frontal crashes and require focused attention from the safety community,’ says Kristy Arbogast, Ph.D., The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia…According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 42 percent of child fatalities to rear-seated children ages 0 to 8 years occur in side-impact collisions.” - Science Daily: How to Best Protect Children in Side-impact Crashes

“Although most automobile accidents are from front or rear end collisions, the side impact crashes are typically the most deadly for children.” - Ezine Articles: Babies' Car Seats and Side Impact Crashes

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