New Programme for the Assessment of Child-restraint Systems (NPACS)

Legislation

European Directive 2003/20/EC on compulsory seat belt wearing/child seat use effectively requires all children who are under twelve years of age and are less than 150 cm tall, to be installed in an appropriate child restraint system (albeit a booster cushion for the taller child) as a condition that the child be carried in a vehicle.

Consumer tests in EU

Having at least four different Child Restraint System (CRS) consumer tests in the EU in which identical CRSs are tested and rated differently is very confusing to consumers. A harmonised test and rating protocol will take away this confusion and offer clearer information to the consumer.

Objective of NPACS

The objective of NPACS is the establishment of scientifically based EU wide harmonised test and rating protocols that will provide consumers with clear and understandable information about dynamic performance (how much protection could a CRS provide during a collision) and usability of child restraint systems.

Field studies

The performances of CRSs are strongly reliant on the correct use of the child seat. Field studies show that many CRSs are fitted incorrectly in cars. The new protocols will address usability in depth and will provide information to consumers to ensure that misfitting of CRS is minimised.

Differences with Euro NCAP

The European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) is assessing the level of safety offered by new car models. Two CRSs with child dummies are included in the frontal and side crash tests. In this programme, the car manufacturer may choose the most suitable CRS for his car. Often the choice is a CRS that is specially designed for the car concerned having a so-called "vehicle specific approval" in accordance with UNECE Regulation 44 for two particular age groups. As a consequence, the Euro NCAP rates the combination of this particular car and these CRSs, rather than rating the CRS's safety performance across most or all vehicle models.

NPACS will test separately, CRSs with a "universal use approval" in accordance with UNECE Regulation 44. "Universally approved" means that the CRS fits in almost all cars.

To summarise, Euro NCAP rates the performance of cars (including, for the child safety aspects, specific car/CRS combinations) while NPACS will rate CRS separately.

Declaration

At its meeting on 29th April 2008 the NPACS FC agreed to the implementation on the research work completed together.

The NPACS test methods and assessment protocols provide independent guidance to consumers on ways to assess the relative performance of child seats. These protocols are scientifically based, objective tests. They establish child seat usability, dynamic crash performance (front and side) and provide an overall easy to understand rating system. The relevance was established from the latest child seat and vehicle designs together with information from real-world accident analysis.

The NPACS research has brought benefits and improvements for safety of children in vehicles. These benefits include,

The partners agree that these benefits from the NPACS research can be most effectively delivered in the short term using the protocols that have been developed and existing channels of communication. The FC recognises that further work in child safety is being done in other groups.