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Important Car Seat Safety Information

This isn't related to politics, but it's important information about infant car seat safety that I wanted to pass along to our readers who are parents of young children. According to Consumer Reports, most of the infant car seats that the organization tested failed miserably. In fact, CR only recommends two seats: the Baby Trend Flex-Loc and Graco SnugRide with EPS.

Here is the important information from the CR article:

Cars and car seats can't be sold unless they can withstand a 30-mph frontal crash. But most cars are also tested in a 35-mph frontal crash and in a 38-mph side crash. Car seats aren't.


When we crash-tested infant car seats at the higher speeds vehicles routinely withstand, most failed disastrously. The car seats twisted violently or flew off their bases, in one case hurling a test dummy 30 feet across the lab. Here are the details:

  • Of 12 infant seats we tested, only 2 performed well: the Baby Trend Flex-Loc and the Graco SnugRide with EPS.
  • Nine infant seats provided poor protection in some or all of our tests, even though they meet the federal safety standard. One seat, the Evenflo Discovery, didn't even meet that standard. We urge federal officials to order a recall of that seat.
  • Infant car seats sold in Europe undergo more rigorous testing than do models sold in the U.S. Indeed, when we crash-tested an infant seat we bought in England, it was the best in our tests. An infant seat sold in the U.S. by the same manufacturer failed. (See European models.)
  • Our findings offer added evidence of problems with LATCH, the federally mandated attachment system for child car seats. Most car seats performed worse with LATCH than with vehicle safety belts. And LATCH attachments aren't always easy to use.

Read all of the Consumer Reports article.

Update: Tom Blogical asked a question about the Anecia Carseat Survival Capsule was chosen by the American Inventor show and is now in development. While doing a little research, I discovered these statistics:

In the crash test that was run it was calculated that at 30 miles an hour the force on the baby's neck is 74 lbs for a classic car seat and just 8 lbs for the Anecia Survival Capsule. At 60 miles an hour the force on the baby's neck is 147 lbs for a classic car seat and just 9 lbs for the Anecia Survival Capsule.

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Comments (10)

I'll say it first...<... (Below threshold)
James Cloninger:

I'll say it first...

It's all Bush's fault!

(and the Jews).

I wonder when the <a href="... (Below threshold)

I wonder when the American Inventor winner's product will hit the market?

Im guessing the lib trolls ... (Below threshold)
Gianni:

Im guessing the lib trolls in here will probably blame their idiocy on failed car seats??

Ever wonder how we managed ... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Ever wonder how we managed to survive without car seats up till about the '70s? And how we managed to survive without airbags? Or seat belts?

There's some devices that make sense, and some that don't. I'm a FIRM believer in seat belts. I don't like air bags - the idea of an explosive charge sitting right in front of me and waiting to inflate the bag just doesn't give me an easy feeling. But it gives a lot of folks a feeling of safety, and that's okay... kind of.

When it comes to child safety seats, I'm not going to obsess about them - because that's exactly what folks like Consumer Reports WANTS you do to. Ever notice how they keep upping the ante on their tests? They don't like how car seats faired in their 'new side and front impact tests'. Did they pass in their old ones?

How do you judge what's 'safe enough'? Or is the bar always moving higher? The seats now are exceedingly safe compared to ten, fifteen years back - are we suddenly to believe they're deathtraps because they fail this new test?

My wife was damn near panic-stricken when we were moving a couple of years back, and I had to put the little guy in the front seat on his booster when I loaded up the rest of the car with boxes. He was strapped in firmly, air bag disabled, seat fully supported - but it was 'less safe' than in the back and therefore 'unsafe' if you went by binary thinking.

So how do you decide what's 'safe enough'? You ever wonder if making sure the environment is so safe that the kid never falls, never bumps his head, never gets a bruise on the playground from swings or monkey bars or playing normal kid games, who sees his/her parents obsessed with making sure the environment is SO safe that there's NO way the kid can hurt himself ... creates an adult who has pretty much no way to judge what's safe and what isn't?

The little guy loved being up front. He could actually talk to me while we were driving instead of being isolated in the back seat! I drove a bit more carefully too, since I had precious cargo in front. He's big enough so he doesn't need a car seat any more - but I'm not going to relegate him to the back seat if he can ride up front.

I know what the risks are, and have decided the reward is worth the risk. Actually, I think the risk is a bit LESS, because I'm more careful with him there than without.

And there, I think, is a slight problem with the emphasis on increasing passive safety measures and de-emphasizing active participation. After a while, you get negligent. You go "Well, I've got all this safety gear (air bags, side air bags, seat belts, child safety seats) so I don't need to be QUITE so careful when I drive." And you hear about folks who don't use their seat belts because they've got airbags - who get killed. Who get careless, figuring their anti-lock brakes will save them... and have accidents when even the anti-lock can't stop them in time.

Carelessness on the roads can kill. God knows we've got enough folks talking on cell phones, eating, putting on makeup and the like. Letting yourself be lulled into complacency because you consider yourself safe inside your cocoon makes you an accident looking for a place to happen.

Be aware, be wary - and you're less likely to need the safety gear you've got. If you want to spend $$$ for the 'best' car seat, go right ahead. But don't expect safety devices to make up for YOUR lack of attention.

I have four kids, ages 15, ... (Below threshold)
Mark:

I have four kids, ages 15, 13, 11 and 2. The first three were buckled into the car via a Fisher Price seat that had a T-shaped buckle/pad assembly that took about 1 second to secure the child into. The 2-year-old rides in a newer car seat -- a supposedly "safer" one. Putting him in takes the snapping of four buckles and the alignment of four straps and takes about 30 seconds if he is not moving. It is like buckling in an astronaut. The old seat took 1 second to extract the kid; the new one takes 30 or so seconds if he is perfectly cooperative.

Say you are in a crash, the car catches fire, etc. and you have to get out in a hurry. Which seat is "safer"?

I can only imagine the next generation of seats: HANS devices? Airbags? What BS.

Thank you for this story Ki... (Below threshold)
nogo postal:

Thank you for this story Kim..I remember the sense of security(obviously false) my wife and I felt when we bundled them in their car seats back in the early '80s..this new product appears to be the real deal and I hope it is successful.

Sometimes 'Better' is the e... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Sometimes 'Better' is the enemy of 'good enough'. Consumer Reports MUST devise tests that cause the seats to fail. And in 5 years, Consumer Reports will announce that their new side and front impact tests at 70 MPH caused all sorts of failures with the new and improved car seats, fueling further safety paranoia and ratcheting up demand for even SAFER seats.

Then someone will come up with a carseat that'll take a 100 MPH impact and keep the kid safe. It'll become the new gold standard, until the next round of tests come along. That it'll be so expensive that few will afford it is irrelevant - after all, what's a few bucks if it keeps your kid safe? If you'll spend $40 to keep your child safe, won't you spend $100? Or $200?

And at what point will they be safe enough? If the occupant can survive a 100 MPH impact into a concrete wall, but not a 125 MPH one, is that good enough or must the seat be improved?

'Testing to destruction' only works when you've established a reasonable upper limit to the amount of expected stress. You can always design a test that'll break something - the question will be if it's applicable to the real world... or not.

JLawson has a good point: ... (Below threshold)
Cousin Dave:

JLawson has a good point: Just how safe is safe enough? And by hyper-safing our kids, and by removing from them all necessity to ever have to make any decisions or judgements, are we crippling their development?

Now, the problem is that most federal regulation is based on the so-called "precautionary principle", which basically states that no risk is acceptable. Of course, there is no activity in life that doesn't bear risk. So what happens is that the federal agencies have a pushing-and-shoving contest with the manufacturers and the process winds up establishing standards that are more or less random. In some cases, they are too leinent; in other cases, they are too strict. However, any standard that doesn't demand an absolute 100% guarantee of safety is in violation of the precautionary principle that the regulation is supposed to be based on. That means that any decision to allow any product to reach the market is by definition hypocritical. And it leads everyone involved to disrespect the process and the law that it is based on.

Here's an exercise for the reader: Go look up the statistics for accidents per mile driven and fatalities per mile driven. What you will find is that the numbers haven't changed much since 1970. Now, there have been all kinds of mandated safety improvements in cars since 1970. We now pay thousands of dollars per car for all of these safety features, and many people actively seek out cars with the latest safety improvements. Yet none of it has made a bit of difference in the statistics.

It ain't working, folks.

It's still true that the most dangerous part of a car is the loose nut behind the steering wheel. The best way to avoid being injured in an accident is to not be in one.

BTW: Mark, interesting that you know about HANS devices -- you must be a hardcore racing fan.

We're shopping for that Fle... (Below threshold)
Mitchell:

We're shopping for that Flex-Loc one tonight. I think we have Graco's which seem to feature prominently in several recalls.

Crap, they're making child protective seats, you'd think they'd figure this shit out, huh?

They do have it figured out... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

They do have it figured out - but if some dweeb doesn't install a seat right, or doesn't use it right, or doesn't thread the straps right and someone gets hurt because of it then it's...

RECALL TIME!

Doesn't matter what the reason is, the companies figure it's cheaper to force a recall than to get into an extensive, expensive legal cat-fight. As has been noted elsewhere, it's damned hard to prove a negative, and trying to prove someone didn't treat the seat properly or install it right or what have you would take a long time, generate a lot of bad press (which does bad things for sales and reputations) and it's cheaper to just issue a recall (which, IMO, most parents are going to ignore anyway if they figure the seat's safe enough) to show they've done something about the 'problem'.

(Had a notice about a recall on an old Sears bolt-action shotgun. Seems if you remove the bolt locking lug retainer screw, then fire the shotgun the bolt could conceiveably depart the rear of the shotgun at high speed. So they issued a recall on the bolts, to cover themselves legally. Apparently this was caused by some nimrod taking his bolt apart to clean it, losing the screw which kept the locking lug in place, but reassembling it anyway with the locking lug loose... then firing it and hurting himself.... prompting a lawsuit. Sometimes, you just gotta work for the money...)




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