When looking for a car seat, the most important selection criterion should be the level of protection provided by the desired model. The safety tests of car seats help to determine it – including the most popular of them, the ADAC test.
„ADAC test” is a colloquial name, commonly used by parents and retailers, but not entirely correct. The acronym ADAC stands for the German automobile club (Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club). The test we are writing about is not organized by ADAC, but by the German consumer organization Stiftung Warentest, which is engaged in testing the quality of products and services. This organisation is responsible for the seats that will be tested. It does this independently of the producers, and thus additionally examines the continuity of product quality.
The „ADAC test” consists of 3 separate tests: safety, ergonomics/ease of use and chemical composition of upholstery. The aforementioned ADAC is responsible for the safety test – and this is where the commonly used, but simplified name comes from. In a rigorous crash test, ADAC specialists check how the car seat will behave in the event of a frontal and side collision (at speeds of 72 and 50 km/h, respectively, although it is not the speed that has the greatest impact on the results, but the braking distance) and what kind of overloads affect the dummy „pretending” to be a child. Due to the fact that ADAC uses the most modern Q-series dummies with sensors placed at several measurement points (e.g. in the head or lower abdomen), researchers are able to accurately measure these values.
However, this is not all, because the chemical composition of upholstery is also tested. The standards that apply to manufacturers in this aspect are very restrictive – similar to those in the toy industry for children (and it is known that children often put blocks or toy cars in their mouths, so each toy must be 100% free of harmful substances. ). Checking the safety of the upholstery is an equally important part of the ADAC test. The materials used for their production are protected during transport with various types of agents, for example fungicides. After some time, these preparations oxidize, which means that the fabric should be safe after ventilating the seat. The ADAC test checks whether the fabric used for the production of upholstery complies with the applicable standards. It’s important to note that this aspect of the test can either be passed or failed. If the standards are exceeded (or actually clearly exceeded, because there is a minimum margin allowing for exceeding the standard – the results contain information about the increased content of a given substance), the seat obtains a negative assessment automatically, even if it was positive in the crash tests.
The second part of the „ADAC test” is the ergonomics and user-friendliness check, which is carried out by the Austrian car club ÖAMTC. How is such a test performed? ÖAMTC invites people who have not had much experience in using car seats to take part in the test, and checks how each of them copes with mounting a given model to the car’s backseat, tightening seatbelts and harnesses, and placing a child in a car seat. The ease of reading the operating instructions is also assessed.
The overall rating of the car seat in the „ADAC test” is 50% based on safety, 40% ergonomics and 10% ease of use.