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14.06.2016
Today, Consumer Reports released the first round of ratings using their new test methodology for evaluating infant child seats. The new Consumer Reports carseat crash test was developed to be more rigorous than federal standards.
When we visited CR last November, our hosts were warm and welcoming and the feeling in the building was so relaxed.
Nobody wants the kind of publicity they had in 2007 when the methodology they used in running their side-impact crash test for carseats was flawed and most carseats failed catastrophically. The test bench (buck) was right there to see and photograph—there was no way to hide it, unless they wanted to throw a big tarp over it. Below is a table of models listed alphabetically, grouped within their Crash Protection ratings that are based on the new frontal crash testing system developed by CR. Not surprisingly, their top overall performer (crash protection and other factors combined) was also one of our Recommended Carseats, the Chicco Keyfit 30 (and Keyfit 22). Other models with above average combined overall scores include the Maxi-Cosi Mico, Combi Shuttle, Cybex Aton 2, the First Years Via 35 I470 and the similar First Years Contigo. As we said to start, we have cautious optimism that this new testing protocol will prove to be fair and reliable, but we reserve final judgment until the results have been more thoroughly vetted by industry experts. Consumer Reports also provides Five Tips for Parents to follow to make sure their infant is safe when they travel in the car. I am encouraged about the new philosophy at Consumer Reports in regard to developing this test.
Consider that over a decade ago, the NHTSA was mandated by Congress in the TREAD Act to develop such a test. Today, over 13 years later, we now have a first step in what could be an industry-accepted crash test program to help consumers compare carseats. I don’t suppose they did separate testing on Canadian models or created a separate chart that indicates models that are available in Canada? I’m a little surprised by some of the results… this is going to be interesting at the store!


If this new method becomes effective, this could really help ease the minds of parents that CAN’T afford the latest and greatest. Peggy, we don’t know where they drew the line in terms of which models were placed into each category. They are constantly in the process of testing carseats, so the next round of convertible ratings is forthcoming. With cautious optimism, we feel this is likely to be a big step forward and should help parents to compare the crash safety of carseats. CR realizes that all carseats meet basic safety standards and wanted to develop a test to determine which seats provide an extra level of protection. It took CR a lot of time and effort to overcome that incident; they’ve since hired a dedicated automotive safety engineer whose sole responsibility is to develop the carseat testing protocol and work on their child passenger safety team. When you’re expecting a baby,there are many things that have to be done, but don’t leave the car seat installation until the last minute.
Swaddling is a common practice with infants, but when placing your baby in an infant seat, it is very important that the harness is snug enough against the baby’s lightly clothed body. The proper positioning for the harness straps for a rear-facing child is at or below the shoulders.
The purpose of the chest clip is to keep the harness in the correct position right before a crash. A child that is too tall for their car seat is at an increased risk of head injury during a crash. In the long term, just like the 5-star rating system from NHTSA and the IIHS Top Safety Pick ratings for automobiles, more rigorous testing often leads to better product designs in the future. This new test was designed by an automotive safety engineer and peer-reviewed by an independent crash testing expert with 40 years of experience in the field. The best way to make sure the seat is installed correctly and that you know how to properly secure your baby in the seat is to take the time to get familiar with the seat and its instructions and to go to a car seat check up event hosted by safekids.org. Technicians often see the chest clip positioned either too low, which can result in shoulder straps not fitting correctly, or too high, which can cause breathing issues.


The CR test is a stricter, stiffer test designed to see which seats may meet higher standards.
Though many of us in the Child Passenger Safety industry have had our concerns about previous ratings, there are definitely improvements that were made over the last few years. It is conducted on an actual contemporary vehicle seat (a 2010 Ford Flex 2nd row seat) with a floor below it, unlike the government test which has a 70’s era back seat test bench with no floor.
Visiting their testing facility gave us a chance to see the inner workings and for them to have the transparency they were eager to share with the CPS community.
How will this affect parents and caregivers currently using an infant seat that only rates a “basic” rating?
CR also issued a separate overall score*, based on these crash protection ratings and other factors like fit to vehicle and ease of use.
Tightening the harness straps over swaddling blankets or puffy clothing can leave undetected slack in the harness, which can lead to an increased chance of injury, or even ejection from the seat during a crash. According to the CDC growth charts, a child is actually more likely to outgrow many infant car seats in height before they reach the maximum weight limit of the seat, so be sure to pay attention to your child’s height relative to the shell of the seat and compare it to the height limit of the car seat.
Does the front panel come anywhere near behaving like a driver’s seat with an occupant?
There’s a front seat back, called the blocker plate, installed in front of the test seat to simulate a front seat, which is used to test potential injury, and the speed of the test is set at 35 mph. For extra warmth, tighten the harness first and then place the jacket or blanket on top of the child and harness. What we do know is that CR has provided the methodology and included the manufacturers in their processes to make this a more valid test, so hopefully it will become a benchmark test.
I am also trying to verify if multiple samples of these seats were tested and had similar results.



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