The Checkout

Car Seat Controversy: Who to Believe?

By now, you've probably heard about the alarming results of Consumer Reports' tests on 12 popular child safety seats. For the first time, CR tested the seats in 35 mph frontal crashes and 38 mph side crashes--the same speed used to crash-test vehicles. CR previously tested the seats in 30 miles per hour crash tests, which is the current federal standard.

Only two seats passed with flying colors: the Graco SnugRide with EPS--expanded polystyrene, a cushioning material--and the Baby Trend Flex-Loc. The seats that failed -- including some CR had previously recommended -- twisted violently or flew off their bases. One sent a dummy hurtling 30 feet across the lab.

Two seats, the Evenflo Discovery and the Eddie Bauer Comfort, perfomed so badly that CR demanded the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration immediately recall them. The Evenflo Discovery failed in a standard 30 mph crash test, and the Eddie Bauer Comfort seat couldn't be installed securely in some cars, CR found.

The findings raised questions on two major fronts:

1. The adequacy of government testing standards for car seats.

2. The adequacy of LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children), the federally mandated attachment system for child car seats that has been around since 2002. LATCH consists of two lower attachements and an upper tether on a child safety seat that anchors and connects with lower anchors and a tether built into a vehicle's back seat. The idea behind it was to standardize the way child safety seats are installed without having to use a seat belt, which don't always provide the most secure fit.

On No. 1: NHTSA says it tried incorporating car seats into frontal and side-crash tests of vehicles, with the idea of coming up with crash-safety ratings for car seats similar to the ones they issue for cars. But NHTSA found those tests yielded little useful information about car-seat safety. So the agency chose to go with "ease of use" ratings instead.

The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association took a harder line on CR's report saying current standards are just fine, thank you. It cited several organizations, such as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, both of which have said retooling car seats to withstand crashes at greater speeds could actually have negative results such as adding to the cost for consumers, making the seats less effective in low-impact crashes, and making them more cumbersome to install--all without making them safer.

(When I tried imagining automakers making the same arguments about building safety features into cars, I have to say the comments came off as odd. Automakers tout safety as part of innovation, and, in their sales pitches, they brag about having the latest side-curtain air bag system or anti-lock brakes. It's strange that car-seat makers don't have the same attitude.)

On No. 2, NHSTA agrees LATCH has problems--just not the same ones. In December, NHTSA released a report that said people were not tethering all the latches or not using LATCH at all because they'd never heard of it.

So where does this leave consumers?

For starters, don't throw away the car seat. Neither CR nor NHTSA wants anyone to go "country" a la Britney and let junior ride in your lap behind the steering wheel.

If you're in the market for a car seat, CR would recommend you buy one of the seats that passed. If you own the Evenflo Discovery or Eddie Bauer Comfort seat, you should try to get a different one.

The manufacturers and NHSTA don't think you need to go that far. The agency, for one, has no current plans to recall either car seat as long as both meet federal standards, which they do, and they can't find any defects in them.

If you have a car seat that fared poorly in CR's tests, and can't afford to replace it with one of the two that passed, you can keep using it provided you get it properly installed. CR recommends you secure the seat with seat belts, not the LATCH system.

By contrast, NHSTA says some seats are better secured using safety belts; some are better secured using LATCH. It's a matter of personal preference.

Until regulators, manufacturers and consumer advocates sort out their differences, consumers will just have to decide whose advice they trust the most.

Whose advice will you take? Consumer Reports'? The manufacturers'? Or NHTSA's?

By Annys Shin |  January 9, 2007; 10:00 AM ET Consumer News
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Comments

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Hmm, good question.

Car seats are like M$M's. Lots of colors but they are all supposed to do the same thing.

If you are going to trust anyone in this, I think it would have to be CR. CR is very objective when it comes to safety. If CR says it's not safe, chances are it is not safe. CR is not in it for the money.

The NATSA is a reactive agency. so I only trust them when they are avid about a recall.

The manufacturers are in it for the money.
Nuf said

Posted by: Radioactive Sushi | January 9, 2007 10:43 AM

I've lost a lot of fait in CR over the years. They're not very good at really understanding physics, or setting up a truly comprehensive test plan. (Can you tell I'm an engineer?)

That said, the government agencies are usually playing catch up in this type of action, so folks should take the CR report with a grain of salt, and use thier own judgement in selecting a seat, AND trying to visualize/simulate some movement in the car after the seat is installed. It still all comes down to the parent taking charge of the situation.

Posted by: Kim | January 9, 2007 10:59 AM

Quick question: This is only for the infant seats, or for all car seats in general. My initial search of the CR article, our car seat wasn't included. And then there is the whole question about seat placement (behind the driver, in the middle or behind the passenger) and how the car seat would fare in those situations.

Posted by: mfd | January 9, 2007 11:02 AM

To mfd: The CR article only addressed the performance of rear-facing infant seats for children up to (I think) 22 pounds or 1 year old. The article also reiterated that the safest place for one of these seats is the rear middle - and the authors were upset that some auto makers haven't fully implemented LATCH for that seat. The article didn't address at all any of the seating options for older/larger toddlers and children.

Posted by: BxNY | January 9, 2007 11:10 AM

Kim,

If CR is so bad then why does the industry and the government take them so seriously?

A few bad test development plans does not make it overall bad.

As an engineer you know that there is no such thing as a perfect test. There are always variables that cannot be factored in.


Posted by: UFO (Unidentified Flying Opinion | January 9, 2007 11:34 AM

Once again this shows the utter failure of the government's "safe crashing" approach to highway safety. Maybe it's time to start telling Moms and Dads to hang up their cell phones, pay attention to the road, and obey the speed limit, because that car seat ain't gonna save your baby in even a minor crash. Surprise surprise.

Lisa Lewis
Director
The Partnership for Safe Driving

Posted by: Lisa | January 9, 2007 11:34 AM

I currently have the Eddie Bauer car seat and I am going to disagree with CR, because my car is an older car and does not have the latch system so we removed the latches from the car seat and only use the seat belt. We have tried 3 car seats from friends and this was the only one that fit properly in my car. I have used it several times already and it doesnt budge. For me I sticking with it until its recalled for some reason because not all cars are the same and not all cars have the latch system. I agree that you should try several seats and find the best for your car.

Posted by: Briana Smith | January 9, 2007 11:37 AM

WHen the article claims to test infant seats, does this mean only seats that snap into a base? I ask this because infants can also sit in a rear-facing convertible seat, which is threaded through latch or the car's seat belt. It's hard to see how a convertible seat could be thrown from the vehicle unless the latch failed or the seat belt snapped. But I can see how an infant seat could come off the base.

I read the official rebuffings of the CR report (basically, the rebuttal was that crash tests are done in very specific ways and minor changes can make the results different from those obtained by official tests. Therefore unless CR did its test exactly as NHTSA did them, then they consider the results invalid). I was unconvinced. When I am in an accident, the car doesn't restrict itself to the specific parameters that NHTSA decides on. If my infant's seat can fly 30 feet in ANY 35mph or 38mph crash I would want to know about it.

I was really disturbed by two things in the CR article. 1. that any car seat coudl go flying-through-the-air in a crash as slow as 35 mph. If I hit a tree on Broken Land Parkway, that could happen. Eek! It makes me wonder if it's better to use convertible car seats, where the belt threads through the seat itself. I know some sources dont' recommend this for newborns, because convertible seats are larger and don't fit babies as well as infant seats. But I wonder, as long as the angle is correct, and the baby's harness is tightened properly, if the total size of the seat is really relevant. Perhaps the main advantage of infant seats is the ability to remove a sleeping baby from the car without waking him/her. Perhaps a recommendation should be made to move infants from a snap-in seat to a convertible seat as soon as possible.

2. That the European seat was of better quality than the American seat for the Britax model. I've read such fantastic things about this brand, all based on its great reputation in Europe. What's up with that! Is a low quality American version piggybacking on a high quality European version? The Britax seats are very expensive. I'd like to know I'm getting what I paid for.

I'm not really convinced by the NHTSA's and JMPA's arguments that ease-of-use trumps absolute safety. I know they are basically saying that carseats are not safe when used improperly, therefore easy-to-use seats are important. However, new parents learn many many complicated things about baby and child care. No one has ever suggested, for example, that I not babyproof my home just because it would mean reorganizing my entire household to avoid any and all exposed electrical cords. It seems like a better solution would be to have greater availability of car-seat installation centers. We need professional seat installers, who can train parents how to use their carseats.

Posted by: jcc | January 9, 2007 11:43 AM

I have major problems with the CR report. Why didn't they test the Britax roundabout or the Britax marathon (the two seats that got the best reviews for rear-facing infants when I was looking for seats)? I don't buy their arguments on LATCH either. The main problems with car seats in general is user error. Bottom line parents need to find out what car seat works best in their car and how to install them correctly And use them correctly every time.

Posted by: downtown mom | January 9, 2007 12:01 PM

I have major problems with the CR report. Why didn't they test the Britax roundabout or the Britax marathon (the two seats that got the best reviews for rear-facing infants when I was looking for seats)? I don't buy their arguments on LATCH either. The main problems with car seats in general is user error. Bottom line parents need to find out what car seat works best in their car and how to install them correctly And use them correctly every time.

Posted by: downtown mom | January 9, 2007 12:02 PM

ROFLMAO! As if a car manufacturer is REALLY concerned with safety. If you buy that you would buy anything. Having known people in the industry- they actually test for the weakest materials they can legally make a car out of. This is why we do not have the solid cars we had between the 30s and the 80s. It was not about getting better mileage- it is about cheaper materials. When younger my grandfather was in a car that rolled 8 times, he was perfectly ok, they rolled it back onto its wheels and it was still able to drive off! This would be impossible today thanks to cheap construction. We have the ability and technology to make good solid safe cars that do not crumple when someone dings them with a shopping cart, or gets into a collision! In fact, even better and stronger materials are available. The Post had an article on nanotube metal a few months ago that is thinner than paper yet stronger than steel, easy to produce, light, and it can act as a solar panel! Where is this stuff? You would think they would make EVERYTHING out of it. Well, it disappeared from public sight...
If safety were really a concern they would build safer cars! They build cheaper cars instead and hype the features that should have been installed in solid cars as an extra safety, but instead you are left with an air bag surrounded by so much plastic and tinfoil on wheels.
Now these same people are arguing about costs in protecting babies! Where will their greed and corruption end?

Posted by: Chris | January 9, 2007 12:09 PM

Why don't we just get it over with and pass legilation that everyone must wear a helmet and pads when in a car.

Posted by: Govt. Regs. Suck | January 9, 2007 12:09 PM

PS- I am with Lisa. Get off the cell phones! NOTHING you could be talking about is so important that you should not be focusing on driving instead.

Posted by: Chris | January 9, 2007 12:12 PM

Although I can't remember the details, also remember to factor in the argument that the Freakonomics authors made about car seats......they exposed some data about the whole car seat phenomenon.....does someone remember better than I do what they said about it?

Posted by: KSM | January 9, 2007 12:17 PM

UFO,

The Gov't and the industry don't take CR seriously. Media outlets do, because it makes for a nifty sound bite to say "Infant Car Seats are bad".

CR does some good things, but they annoint their results as gospel. They're not. That's why I said that their results (along with other tests) must be taken with a grain of salt.

Posted by: Kim | January 9, 2007 12:33 PM

"It's strange that car-seat makers don't have the same attitude."

But Britax does have a safety attitude when it comes to marketing - and, apparently, design as well. Their Roundabout and Marathon are highly rated by CR. Either they're the best of a bad bunch, or they're just really good, but in any case I'm glad I dropped the $300 on ours. I'd pay twice that to protect my child. So what's with worrying about consumer cost, and when has anyone cared about that before?

downtown mom - the report rated infant seats, not convertible, so the Marathon and Roundabout weren't included. Those seats are on CR in a different section.

Posted by: Jaxom's mom | January 9, 2007 12:38 PM

On a side note, CR has (finally!) started mentioning the height restrictions on infant carseats. It used to be 26 inches, 20 pounds-- but everyone, including CR, only talked about the weight restrictions. I would see parents hauling their kids to their one-year-old appts. in an infant carseat-- when they were WAY too big for them! My kid outgrew the infant carseat by 4 months, but didn't reach the weight until she was nearly a year and a half (yep, she was quite tall and skinny). If I had been relying on CR I would have kept my child in the infant carseat until she was 18 months, thinking I was safe.

Posted by: Neighbor | January 9, 2007 1:04 PM

A propos Lisa...

I suggest that parents all learn to ride motorcycles. Why? Because, having ridden for ~15 years, I've learned that my safety on the road is up to me, and me alone. That means that I: a) can't ride like a moron; b) must avoid the moron in the car/SUV/etc. at all costs; and c) should keep a cool head and yield, even if I legally have the right of way.

Don't rely on the safety hardware. They best piece of automotive safety equipment is between your ears. Just use it.

Posted by: Motorcyclin' Dad to Be | January 9, 2007 1:06 PM

Don't get me wrong Kim. If you want to know something works you have to try it for yourself. Result vary. Engineers know that too.

As for CM, say what you like, but until they are discredited, they are the closest thing to testing before trying.

Motorcyclin' Dad to Be,

That is the stupidest thing I have heard today. Strap an infant to a bike with a motor on it designed to go as fast, or faster that a car? There are at least 100 things wrong with that. And some laws against it too.
Despite your great attitude towards driving, you can never know what the other guy is going to do.

I hope mom-to-be has a different view on who should be riding the bike and who should be safe in a covered, crash protected car/truck/suv.

Posted by: UFO (Unidentified Flying Opinion | January 9, 2007 1:20 PM

Ms. Shin - Automakers may now tout their safety innovations, but American automakers have always fought vigorously to not have to include them, from seatbelts on up. They always claim that these features will add to the cost of the vehicle and be cumbersome for the driver and passengers to use. Nothing can protect any driver or passenger better than defensive, focused (no cell phones, PDA's, DVD players, etc.) driving.

Posted by: slats | January 9, 2007 1:34 PM

To the person wondering why they did not test the Britax Boulevard and Marathon is because the focused only on infant carriers. I saw the video of the CR test and its very cropped , it appears that the seat is not in a actual car. BTW Britax has a rebutal to the CR article. I disagree with their rebutal on the grounds that they market and charge a premium
for a "safer" seat then the competion.

Posted by: daemon | January 9, 2007 1:34 PM

If you have any questions about the installation of your car seat, Montgomery County Government and a number of car dealers in the County offer free inspections and will show people the correct way to install seats, and to secure the kids.
I'm sure other counties have similar programs.

Posted by: me | January 9, 2007 2:10 PM

JCC- I too was surprised to read that the European version of the carseat held up better in safety tests than the American version. According to CR, it is because the British version have "feet" that support the carseat from the floor of the car. However, American crash test cars don't have floors, so American carseats don't have the foot feature. If this feature really adds to safety, surely there is a way to adapt American crash tests to support the testing of that type of carseat.

KSM - There is something in Freakonomics about carseats, but I don't remember what it is now... Does anyone else remember?

A final note - the carseats in the CR tests were installed by professionals. And not all crashes are the result of irresponsible parents on cell phones. Even the parent who does everything right can end up in an accident, which is why this report is so important. Whether everyone buys the results is less important than the fact that the report has drawn attention to the issue and will challenge carseat manufacturers to test their products with similar scrutiny (i.e., using higher crash test speeds, side-impact tests, etc.).

Posted by: Stephanie | January 9, 2007 2:43 PM

To follow up on what "me" wrote -- most police departments offer similar free services, to inspect whether car seats are properly installed. If they don't perform the inspections themselves, they can certainly refer you to a respectable group that does.

I've heard varying statistics that as many as 85% of child seats are not buckled or latched correctly.

Posted by: Emma's dad | January 9, 2007 2:55 PM

This just in from Russ Rader at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety:

[T]hought you might like to see this study which echoes the body of research on child restraint safety over the last several years. The bottom line for parents is that there is no evidence that child restraints are failing in real-world crashes. NHTSA finds the same thing. This study (see link below) done by the Institute looked at crashes in which restrained children died. In two-thirds of the cases, it was virtually certain that failure of the child restraint was not a factor. In most cases the crash was deemed unsurvivable - ie. the area where the child was placed was destroyed in the crash.

A summary of the study is in this report on our website beginning on page 4.

http://www.iihs.org/sr/pdfs/sr3805.pdf

Posted by: Annys | January 9, 2007 3:02 PM

My wife and I used only the convertible seat for our newborn - we didn't trust the rear-facing seats that snapped in and out because it seemed they had too many points of failure. Looks like we were right. They pop out of their bases upon a major impact.

It is rather sad that anybody would include "cost" as a deciding factor when it comes to the safety of a child. Really sad. The industry/political leaders making this type of decision should stand up and be accounted for. Let everybody, including their own children, know that money is more important to them than children's safety.

As far as the LATCH system is concerned - use it. But use the seatbelt/shoulder harness too. It isn't that hard to do and you are increasing the points that must fail before the seat breaks loose and the child is injured. All seats equipped with LATCH also have the adaptor for seat belts/should harnesses that provides for a proper fit.

Posted by: SoMD | January 9, 2007 3:05 PM

UFO,

Motorcyclin' Dad did not suggest riding with an infant. He suggested that learning to ride a motorcycle makes a driver more aware of his or her surroundings.

As a rider, I agree with him that in most cases this is true. The other option is to wind up dead.

Regarding the infant seats, I find it very disturbing that the seat could come apart under any type of impact. This should not ever happen. The fact that previous testing did not reveal this only makes me feel that the controlled conditions which were tested before are not relevant to the real world.

Posted by: Jen | January 9, 2007 3:20 PM

Here's a News Flash:

ALL crash tests are conducted at such low speeds (30 to 40 mph impact) that they have very little relevance to real-world driving. If you want crashes to be safe, for infants and adults alike, you have to set the speed governors on cars at 30 to 40 mph so that the car can't go any faster. Then the crash-test results will have relevance for all crashes, including those occurring on highways.

Otherwise, you have to focus on preventing crashes rather than merely trying to make them safe. These are your two choices. A compromise would be to set the governor at 50 or 55 mph max, and then take steps (like banning cell phone use while driving) to prevent crashes, but avoid the most draconian measures, such as drastically restricting who can drive based on their driving skills and overall health.

All this "science-based" crash-testing right now is nothing but a big waste of money, as evidenced by the more than 43,000 deaths and 5 million injuries on the roads EACH YEAR.

Lisa Lewis
Director
The Partnership for Safe Driving

Posted by: Lisa | January 9, 2007 3:39 PM

Dear UFO:

Please re-read my post. I'm sure, in your haste to flame, you simply left your reading skills at home -- please look for them, they're probably next to your manners.

Let me summarize with short words and simple sentences. Maybe you'll get it the 2d time around.

Driving is dangerous. The best way to be safe on the road is to avoid the accident, rather than relying on the safety equipment. Riding a motorcycle makes you very vulnerable. Riding a motorcycle teaches you to account for your own actions, and to compensate for the shortcomings (including short tempers) of those around you. In fact, it makes those skills and thought patterns automatic.

FWIW, I agree with your assertion that putting a baby on a motorcycle is not wise. Which is one reason why I did not recommend that you (or anybody) do so. I *did*, however, advocate learning the skills necessary to avoid collisions.

Here's wishing a good day to all (and wishing a valium for UFO).

Posted by: Motoryclin' Dad to Be | January 9, 2007 3:44 PM

Chris: I believe the Freakonomics premise on car seats was that injuries to children in crashes were reduced primarily because the kids were being put in the back seat and restrained with a seat belt, rather than because of the car seat itself.

Posted by: CJS | January 9, 2007 4:03 PM

Okay everyone, let's get back to the topic and focus on what is important - the safety of our most vulnerable passengers - infants under 1 year. CR tested only the removable infant carrier child restraints at the higher speeds of 35mph frontal crash and, for the first time, side impact crash at 38 mph. Clearly these speeds have some significance if our vehicles are tested at those speeds. Remember, just the base is secured with the latch belt or seat belt and not the carrier itself. Most carriers can be installed in the car without the base, but I have yet to find any crash test ratings for the carriers without using the base. 572 infant deaths (under 1 year) from 2001 to 2005 is a very sobering statistic. I bet anyone of those parents would rather be in our shoes (having this information as opposed to experiencing this information) than their own concerning this new safety alert. Unfortunately, the CR report does not go far enough to explain the findings of each test result. The institution I most want to hear from right now is the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (even if they are only in it for the money, safety is directly attached to it in their case). Are we asking, capturing and evalutating the right information. CR has a lab and can try to replicate a real crash, but if we are collecting the correct information from the actual events perhaps we can advance the right cause of saving lives. Are they, or someone for that matter, collecting information such as was the child restrained or not restrained, type, year, make & model of the child restraint and vehicle, point of impact (front, rear, side, etc.), rate of speed, did the death or injury occur from defect in the restraint or a projectile in the vehicle. I could go on and on. Hindsight is 20/20 lets use it.

Posted by: Tricia | January 9, 2007 4:17 PM

Crash testing at lower speeds is not a waste of time or money. It may not be as effective as crash testing at real-life highway speeds, but it does serve a real-life purpose. The 43,000 highway deaths a year will not be stopped by crash testing at higher speeds.

I had one of those snap-into-a-base rear-facing car seats and never thought about the seat maybe coming unhinged in an accident. So good for CR -- it's always better to have more independent voices. (Turns out it was a Graco Snug Ride, one of the two safe seats, but it's still something to think about.) We now have a Britax marathon connected with LATCH, and let me tell you, you could not move that seat one centimeter in any direction without undoing the connectors manually. It's rock solid. But it is a good idea to use both the LATCH system if you have it AND the seatbelts. Why not? Couldn't hurt.

Our pediatrician said to put the car seat in the rear behind the driver because then the driver's seat would stop the seat from flying forward to the windshield if it came loose in a crash. But after looking into it more we decided to put the seat in the rear in the center. That's the location that's most recommended, and it's more space between the seat and the outside of the car.

Posted by: Spud Spudly | January 9, 2007 4:41 PM

I'm surprised at your surprise at the reaction of the Juvenille Products Manufacturers Asso. It sounds a lot like the car manufacturers reaction to Ralph Nader's early revelations about auto safety. It's taken decades to get to the point where they tout safety as part of innovation. And they still use the same reaction to attempts to increase CAFE standards. Until these kinds of associations are forced to, they do everything they can to resist innovation. Then when they have to, they tout their innovation.

Posted by: EPRice29 | January 9, 2007 4:49 PM

I did not suggest wasting even more money by crash-testing vehicles (and car seats) at higher speeds. What I said was: The only way to significantly reduce the staggering fatality and injury rates on our roads is to first, lower speed governor settings on cars (which control the max. speed the car can go) to a speed more compatible with the crash tests (as opposed to 100 to 160 mph) which is what they are currently set at, and then take reasonable steps to prevent crashes from happening in the first placed (including banning cell phone use while driving, for example). But too many parents want to just maintain the status quo and put all their faith in their cute little car seats. This is because, deep down, no one thinks that they themselves are going to be involved in a serious crash. We have plenty of crash victims in our organization, including people who lost their infant children in crashes. Most of them say the same thing; they never thought it could happen to them. But it did. And it is a nightmare beyond any nightmare you can imagine. And they have to live with it for the rest of their lives.

Lisa Lewis
Director
The Partnership for Safe Driving

Posted by: Lisa | January 9, 2007 4:50 PM

Who's more trustworthy? Who do you believe? ALL the sources have their own interests in mind. Even Consumer Reports, which may seem like a trustworthy source with no horse in the race, has to sell subscriptions to its many consumer services.

And it costs a lot of money to crash test all those car seats. What do you think CR would prefer to do after performing all those expensive tests -- announce that the seats were safe and not a problem? Or announce that the seats weren't safe and should be recalled? Which gets CR more publicity? Which gets it more subscribers?

Posted by: Tiki Barber | January 9, 2007 4:51 PM

I remember my husband being shocked when he jiggled the infant carseat a little and was able to remove it from the base. I told him that jiggling was unlikely to happen in a car wreck, and it didn't release when we tugged on it. It doesn't give one much confidence in our carseat manufacturers.

Posted by: Engineer wife | January 9, 2007 4:53 PM

Thanks to Lisa and Chris for telling self-important jerks to get OFF THE CELL PHONE and pay attention to driving. Also to Emma's Dad who points out a lot of car seats are not installed properly. Our County has regular safety fairs with a health department person checking to see if seats are installed properly. You'd be surprised how many are not.

I have seen a helmeted biker riding a 10-speed around downtown DC with a toddler in a contraption pulled behind his bike. This is during rush hour. If that biker gets rear-ended the child in that contraption on back would be crushed like an eggshell. That thing is no safer than a shoebox. I don't know how people can be so safety conscious one minute and so incredibly stupid the next. I'm often tempted to call a patrol officer and have that biker arrested for child endangerment.

Posted by: Southern Maryland | January 9, 2007 4:56 PM

Actually Lisa, you said it was "nothing but a big waste of money." But I get your drift.

Posted by: Spud Spudly | January 9, 2007 4:59 PM

If the seats broke during the crashes, they broke - PERIOD!

Consumer Reports has no reason to lie. All this squawking from NHTSA and the manufacturers is a little hard on the ears. Did not the automakers to directly to President Nixon to try to kill new safety measures? One of the guys from the Big Three said something to the effect that seatbelts were useless. And, it seems like the child seat people would have learned a lesson from Ford and it's Pinto (Grimshaw v. Ford Motor Co.,), i.e., if you have a problem fix it now rather than paying 10-times for it later. When will big business learn it lesson? People before profit (because if you don't those peoples' survivors will take all your profits)!

Posted by: Frank | January 9, 2007 5:30 PM


Isn't it funny how there are billions and billions of dollars available for this continuing slaughter, while social programs in the US are starved for funding? Schools, healthcare, housing and other vital programs are continually cut back or eliminated because there is "no money" for them. Politicians stand up and blather on about how our society "cannot afford" to provide a social safety net for its citizens, while at the same time a tame Congress votes again and again to feed billions into the war machine and into the pockets of corporate criminals like Halliburton. It's sickening.

In order to finance these wars of aggression and windfalls for arms manufacturers, poor and working class youth are shoved into the meat grinder. Meanwhile, the United States steadily becomes more and more like a third-world country, with the destruction of manufacturing jobs, a bloated oligarchy, thousands of people living on the streets and dying of preventable diseases and the environment being destroyed by the rape of the planet for resources that never make it to the people who are exploited into providing the labor that produces it.

Welcome to the world's biggest banana republic.

CZ

San Francisco, California, US

Posted by: che | January 9, 2007 7:19 PM

Oh my. Che! You posted something worth reading! Congrats.

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | January 9, 2007 11:54 PM

Isn't it funny as well how self-righteous people get when it comes to the safety of "our most valuable resource?"

"I'm often tempted to call a patrol officer and have that biker arrested for child endangerment."

- Why don't you mind your own business? I'm sure if someone put a camera on you they would eventually find behavior that some may constitute as child endangerment. If that person's child was killed, they would have to live with the consequences, NOT YOU.

"It is rather sad that anybody would include "cost" as a deciding factor when it comes to the safety of a child."

- Your right. It should go like this: "Sorry kids, due to the cost of putting you in bubbles to maximize your safety, we can't afford to pay the mortgage. At least we won't have to worry about you getting a bruise while we are living on the street."

Car seats are obviously important. However, nobody writing on this forum today grew up with them. The only way to maximize the safety of your child is to never put them in a car or let them outdoors for that matter.

Posted by: Yur Mom | January 10, 2007 1:41 PM

I was appalled by the Consumer Reports story on car seats. Why does the Government require cars to be tested one way and car seats another? Duh? Aren't they used togther? And did you read about all the real life problems with the Evenflo seat? The government had more than 50 reports of it separating from the base. But it didn't recall the seat. Instead, it closed the investagtion. Just who is the government protecting, manufacturers or children?

Posted by: Lobster | January 10, 2007 11:45 PM

Excuse me Yur Mom, I had a child seat when I was a little kid. It was pretty much a lightly padded plastic thing that was better than nothing I suppose. So there. :P
We are not saying eliminate the possibility of harm coming to a child by making them live in a bubble, we are talking about reasonable options for risk mitigation. I just love when people go to extremes to blow things so far out of proportion to make an argument against progress.

Posted by: Chris | January 12, 2007 11:00 AM

We purchased the Britax Companion because it was the top-rated saftety seat. After reading the CR article, we rushed out and bought the Graco - not wanting to take a chance. Frankly, the Graco quality doesn't appear to touch that of the Britax, so we went back to our original seat. But now, we use the latch connectors for the base, and the seatbelt to hold the seat down. I emailed CR about this and they recommended against it citing that the seat belt could interfere with the latch system, but mostly because there could be rubbing that could wear the seat belt. My Volvo doesn't seem to have problems with interference or rubbing, so we're keeping it this way. The extra seatbelt on the carseat only takes an additonal 30 seconds to setup and should keep the seat from separating from the base at all.

Posted by: Carter St.Clair | January 18, 2007 8:47 PM

Consumer Reports has withdrawn the article pending new tests. They cite problems with the side-impact testing and will release a new report ASAP.

Posted by: Carter | January 26, 2007 8:29 AM

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