Building better car seats

Jun 30, 2009

Kettering University's Crash Safety Center worked with Dorel Juvenile Group to develop a ground-breaking new car seat safety technology that better protects kids in side impact crashes.

Kettering University's Crash Safety Center worked with Dorel Juvenile Group to develop a ground-breaking new car seat safety technology that better protects children in side impact crashes.

The New Safety 1st Car Seat has Air Protect™ -- the most innovative and groundbreaking safety feature ever offered in a car seat.  Developed in conjunction with Kettering University’s renowned Crash Safety Center, Air Protect™ is designed to protect children in side impact collisions, putting a state-of-the-art layer of air protection where it’s needed most, around the child’s head.

Side impact crashes have dramatically increased over the past two decades and are today the deadliest kind of crashes for children.  The vast majority of these fatalities are due to head trauma, according to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

“There is currently no government-mandated test requirement for side impacts related to child seats,” said Dr. Janet Brelin-Fornari, professor of Mechanical Engineering and Director of Kettering’s Crash Safety Center.

“Dorel is actually moving ahead of government regulations to produce a safer car seat for side impact crashes because they want to be leaders in reducing the risk of injury to children during collisions,” she added. NHTSA is utilizing the research conducted by Dorel and Brelin-Fornari to develop standards for side impact testing of car seats, according to Brelin-Fornari.

How Air Protect™ Works - Through the precise release of air, Air Protect™ compresses and shields children from side impact intrusion and immediately reduces crash forces where the child is most vulnerable – the head.  Air Protect™ does this by extending ride-down, the amount of time it takes to slow a child’s movement in a crash.  By extending ride-down time, Air Protect™ creates a slower, softer landing.

The Dorel/Kettering Method - Air Protect™ was developed as a result of a revolutionary testing method. The Dorel/Kettering Method uses an intruding door technique, instead of a fixed door, to simulate a side impact crash with far more accuracy. In a side impact crash, a car door moves inward, toward the child.

Global Testing and Engineering Services collaborated with Kettering to design the fixtures that simulated real-world crash events, said Brelin-Fornari.

“Dorel continues to be the leader in the car seat category and with this unique testing approach has created a new level of side impact protection for children, the likes of which have never been seen before,” commented Dave Taylor, President of Dorel Juvenile Group US.  “This new testing method is so significant that we have shared our findings with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, supporting NHTSA’s efforts to provide more comprehensive regulation for side impact crash testing.”

Over the past two years, Dorel’s team of industry-leading car seat engineers have collaborated with researchers at Kettering University to study side impact crashes.  “The Dorel/Kettering Method and Air Protect™ are truly break-through advancements for child passenger safety,” said Brelin-Fornari, who specializes in pediatric crash safety and oversees the crash safety programs at Kettering.

“The technology is so revolutionary that we will be rolling it out globally – incorporating it in Dorel car seats in Europe and Australia, in addition to North America,” said Hani Basile, Global Dorel Juvenile Group President and Chief Executive Officer.

Road safety is especially important this summer as millions of families plan to travel to vacation destinations by car.  According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), an estimated 27 million Americans will travel by car this summer, many with children in the back seat.

Air Protect™ is being offered in the new Safety 1st Complete Air car seat in black/gray and brown/orange.  In addition to offering the best side impact protection, the Safety 1st Complete Air with Air Protect™ is easy to install, with Safety 1st’s QuickFit™ Harness System, among other features.  “We know that proper installation and use are critical to a child’s safety too,” added Dorel’s Taylor.

A convertible car seat for children 5 to 50 pounds, Safety 1st’s Complete Air is available for pre-order beginning July 1 at Babies“R”Us stores and online at and  In August, Toys“R”Us and Babies“R”Us stores will be the first to offer the Complete Air car seat with Air Protect™, followed by other retailers later in the year.  To learn more, visit  Safety 1st has been the definitive leader and innovator in child safety products for the home and car for the past 25 years.

Air Protect™ Technology will also be extended to other Dorel car seats, including Maxi Cosi, Eddie Bauer and Cosco car seats.

About Dorel Industries

Dorel Industries Inc. (TSX: DII.B, DII.A) is a world class juvenile products and bicycle company. Established in 1962, Dorel creates style and excitement in equal measure to safety, quality and value. The Company’s lifestyle leadership position is pronounced in both its Juvenile and Bicycle categories with an array of trend-setting products. Dorel’s powerfully branded products include Safety 1st, Quinny, Cosco, Maxi-Cosi and Bébé Confort in Juvenile, as well as Cannondale, Schwinn, GT, Mongoose and SUGOI in Recreational/Leisure. Dorel’s Home Furnishings segment markets a wide assortment of furniture products, both domestically produced and imported. Dorel is a US $2.2 billion company with 4,700 employees, facilities in eighteen countries, and sales worldwide.

Written by Dawn Hibbard with information provided by Dorel