Child Safety Seat Tests: Consumer Reports Weighs In
Last week, Consumer Reports announced their ratings for 34 child safety seats designed for infants in front-impact crash tests. Based on these tests, the groups was only able to award the top ranking of “Best” to 13 of them.
Consumer Reports invested a lot of money and two years to develop a new testing procedure for evaluating the crash protection provided by child seats and to provide parents with enough information to make an informed choice with regard to the safety level of the seats.
The tests were conducted by an independent laboratory, with the seats mounted on a specially constructed “sled” fixture that had been fitted with cushions and hardware designed to represent a production vehicle. The sled then moves forward on fixed rails and stops abruptly, to simulate the force encountered in a 35-mile-per-hour frontal crash. This system in many ways mimics crash tests for vehicles as conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). But under the current NHTSA mandated system, child safety seat manufacturers test them according to the federal standard, which evaluates seats based on a 30-mile-per-hour frontal crash, so this new crash test is more stringent than federal standards.
As noted, the first series of tests conducted under the new procedures looked a 34 infant safety seats, which can only be mounted so that the seat faces the rear of the vehicle. This type of seat comes with two parts; a fixed base that straps into the car and a detachable infant carrier that snaps out of the base when the parent wants to take the child out of the vehicle.
Of the models that were tested, 13 were given the top Consumer Reports designation of “Best,” which makes them the best seats for crash protection, while 16 others were given the designation of “Better,” which is a step lower, and provided slightly less protection. Five seats were given a rating of “Basic,” which is the lowest rating given by Consumer Reports. Of those five, three received that rating because they either detached from their bases on impact or the bases themselves split slightly. The other two received that rating because sensors in the test dummies used recorded higher potential “head injury” measurements than the other seats tested. No crash dummies were ejected from any of the seats during the test, and all remained secure by the harness.
We all know that child safety seats work to reduce family tragedies. According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, traffic fatalities of children 12 and under fell by 43 percent between 2002 and 2011, with much of the credit going to convincing parents to put children into child restraints and placing them in the back seat.
If your child or the child of a loved one has been injured due to the failure of any child safety seat, please contact the Texas Defective Product Injury Lawyers at Hill Law Firm immediately to protect your rights.