Quebec lab simulates crashes to improve road safety

Transport Canada is using crash simulation technology at a Quebec laboratory to study side-impact accidents, generating research that could lead to new safety regulations for adults and children down the road.

Transport Canada is using crash simulation technology at a Quebec laboratory to study side-impact accidents, generating research that could lead to new safety regulations for adults and children down the road.

The crash lab, located in Blainville, north of Montreal, uses high-tech dummies to set up mock crashes and measures injuries to the head, ribs, chest and pelvis.

Researchers are also studying how child car seats react when rear car doors are crushed upon high impact, with the goal of eventually improving the devices.

"The reason that's important is at the moment, we don't have regulation to protect children in side impacts, and in order to develop that regulation, we have to be able to understand very well what goes on in a real crash," said Suzanne Tylko, the lab's chief researcher.

Children's car seats are essential to protecting kids, even well after the toddler stage, Tylko said.

"Unlike booster seats, and unlike the seatbelts, what the child seat offers you is, first of all, a cocoon. But it also provides you with this great harness that really keeps the child in place, that keeps the child and prevents that child from sliding over, rolling out and striking other things in the vehicle and getting hurt," she said.

Tylko said children should ride in car seats as long as possible before switching to booster seats.

"There are more and more seats that are coming out that go to 50 pounds, that go to 65 pounds, so have a look on the side — they're all labelled and that information is readily available for you," she said.

The Blainville facilities are Transport Canada's only crash-test laboratory.