Infant Car Seats Undergo New Tests

A ground-breaking study recently produced surprising results. The goal of the study, according to the director of operations at Consumer Reports' auto test center in Connecticut, was to "point out car seats with a better margin of safety and drive designs that do it better." Up until now, there has been no comparable ranking of children's car seats conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

How the Test Worked

The study looked at 34 child safety seats and awarded the top ranking of "Best" to just 13 of the seats. For the test, several infant car seats were mounted on a sled fixture fitted with cushions and hardware, representing a production vehicle. The sled then traveled forward on fixed rails only to stop abruptly. This movement simulated forces that would be encountered at a 35mph crash.

Results of the Test

The results of the test were as follows:

  • 13 models received the rating of "Best"
  • 16 models received the rating of "Better"
  • 5 models received the rating of "Basic"

Of the five models that received the rating of "basic," three had seats that detached from their bases on impact or the bases split and two registered higher injury measures. These models were:

  • The Evenflo Embrace 35 (Select)
  • The Snugli Infant Car Seat
  • The Graco SnugRide Classic Connect
  • The Orbit Baby Infant Car Seat G2
  • Maxi-Cosi Prezi (marketed by Dorel)

Why This Test Was Different

All child seat manufacturers currently test their products according to the federal standard, which is withstanding a frontal impact at 30mph.

This test, however, went above and beyond in four ways:

  • It added a blocker plate to the sled to simulate the front seatback (which a child could hit in a crash)
  • It used a seat cushion which represents the "average" vehicle seat on the road today
  • It tested car seats at 35mph, which is a 36% increase in crash energy
  • An engineer was hired to oversee the effort internally and test protocol was reviewed by an outside expert

For more information on this study and its results, you can check out the full article here. This study illustrates the importance of doing our research and making sure we do everything possible to protect our most precious possessions: our children.

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