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Infant car seats; Graco good, Evenflo bad

I'm usually not one to raise a fuss over one of those stories you see on the news, you know the ones? The sort where the 6 p.m. news anchors ask with heightened eyebrows, "could your child's life be AT RISK?" and then cut to commercial. But this one has even me up in arms.

Update: Consumer Reports has made the unusual move of taking back its study, saying that "new information received Tuesday night and Wednesday morning from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) ... raises a question about whether the tests accurately simulated that speed [of 38 mph]." While this is interesting, I find it odd to quibble over what may be one or two miles an hour of difference when we're talking the safety of our children! [end update]

Consumer Reports did a study of 12 infant car seat models. Instead of testing them in crashes at 30 mph, the speed that the U.S. government requires car seats to withstand, the magazine tested the seats (filled with baby-sized crash-test dummies, shivers) at 35 and 38 mph, the speeds at which most cars are crash-tested. The results were frightening; many car seats detached from their bases, and some were catapulted out of the base. Many seats would have "caused grave injuries."

Infant_car_seats_safe
Graco's SnugRide with EPS seat, $79.99 at Target, and the Baby Trend Flex-Loc, also $79.99, passed the test. The Evenflo Discovery, $49.99 at Target, did so poorly that Consumer Reports urged the CPCC to recall the seat. I've raved about this at length at my 'day job,' and you can see Consumer Reports for more detail.

Comments

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Ugh! Thanks for the heads up. I was disappointed to see the poor performance of the Britax Companion, which is the seat we used for my daughter in her early months, and then passed on to relatives. We had paid a premium price for the Britax, under the apparently misguided assumption that it would provide top-of-the-line protection.

Phew! We got the Snugride for our new little snuggle-bug for its constitantly high ratings -- so glad it passed this test, too! Very scary results for so many little ones out there... Now I want them to test the seats for the bigger kids!

No matter what car seat you have, it is also important to make sure that you are using it properly. You can have your safety seat installation inspected at a variety of local agencies and businesses.

To find the inspection station closest to you, go to http://www.seatcheck.org/index.html

or check out the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/.

A couple of other things to keep in mind regarding safety seats:

1) don't purchase a used car seat since there is not way to confirm that it has not been in a crash

2) don't use a seat past its expiration date - the expiration date is usually stamped on the plastic.

I'm really frustrated by this new report, too. I am currently using the BRITAX COMPANION for my 7 mo old. I researched until my eyes were blurry and got this one because it was the safest! My big question is how does the same seat test well a few years ago and then do horribly when tested again? Britax's website offers no answers, yet.

Another addition to this discussion, the Alliance for Community Traffic Safety maintains a calendar of carseat clinics on their website.
At these clinics a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician checks your seat for correct installation, damage, recalls, and size and age appropriateness.

http://www.actsoregon.org/csr/subtext/calendar.php

We did this when Mila was still in a carseat (she's in a booster now) and it was very eye-opening.

I have the Snugride, but it does not have EPS (the protective foam) from what I can tell. Anyone know if it can be purchased from Grace and installed??

While we're on this subject - something to keep in mind about booster seats - there is some argument that they are not as safe as a five-point harness seat, especially if a seat belt should fail, which they sometimes do. A friend recently sent me this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azgBhZfcqaQ. Worth thinking about.

I just read that Consumer Reports is recalling the article. Details here:
http://www.cnn.com/2007/AUTOS/01/18/car_seat/index.html

thanks Liz! I saw the news, too, and now I've added an "update" to the post. I don't know what to think!

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