Consumer Reports retracts it’s study on infant carseats

January 23rd, 2007

I thought this was important enough to pull out of the comments on my previous post and copy here.

Merrit left this comment.

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - Consumer Reports once mismeasured the ingredients in dog food. Just last year, it screwed up the depreciation rates of hybrid cars.

But it’s rare for the trusted, independent magazine to go as wrong as it did in its report this month on infant car seats. Consumer Reports retracted the report Thursday when it turned out that side-impact crashes in tests of car seats were carried out at speeds near 70 mph, not the 38 mph the magazine claimed.

The magazine told its 6.3 million print and online readers — and the millions more who had heard about the widely publicized report — to disregard the startling findings earlier this month that only two of the 12 seats it tested were worth buying. Parents of babies may or may not have been comforted by the magazine’s promise to retest the seats and issue a new report.

On Friday, spokesman Ken Weine defended the magazine’s overall 70-year record.

“As an organization whose only mission is to serve consumers’ interest, we test over 3,100 products a year with our teams of reporters, scientists, engineers and even mystery shoppers who apply the most rigorous standards,” he said.

He also noted that Consumer Reports went public with the information as soon as it learned of the bad test at the Calspan lab in Buffalo.

Weine would not say whether Consumer Reports expects lawsuits over its faulty testing. And at least two of the car-seat makers whose products were rated poorly in the faulty test seemed conciliatory.

“The intent of Consumer Reports was probably in the best interests of families and child safety,” said Lisa Nussa of Peg Perego. “There are no plans for a lawsuit or anything along those lines.” Another car-seat maker, Chicco USA, said it “applauds Consumer Reports for its prompt action.”

I think that in spite of Consumer Reports retracting the study, it causes concern for me as a parent. The car seat manufacturers are only required to test their carseats at 32 miles per hour. That is awfully slow. I was out doing errands today and with this running through the back of my head, I made mental notes of my speed. Shouldn’t the carseat manufacturers be required to have their seats perform well at a speed that at least equals the average speed you drive around through town on a Saturday afternoon.

Furthermore, the two seats that passed their tests? If I were in the market for an infant carseat I would be running to purchase one of them.

Another commenter left a link to this ivillage message board. Everything you ever wanted to know about carseats has proably already been answered there. And if it hasn’t, there is a slew of people armed with knowledge just waiting to share it with you.

Infant carseats fail tests

January 5th, 2007

evenflo infant seatConsumer Reports has tested the twelve most popular rear facing infant carseats. Shockingly, TEN failed their safety tests. One, the Evenflo Discovery (pictured above), performing so poorly that Consumer Reports advised the seat be recalled.

This quote by the CEO of Evenflo angered me as a parent:

Evenflo CEO Robert Matteucci questioned the laboratory tests used by Consumer Reports. “Over decades of doing testing, we know that unless every variable is strictly adhered to - from the way the seat is strapped in to the crash test dummy used - the variables can affect the result,” Matteucci said.

Shouldn’t car seats be made safe enough so that it doesn’t require an engineering degree to safely secure it into your vehicle and safely strap your child into it? What a cop out by Evenflo. So if you have their carseat and it doesn’t perform well in real life circumstances, the company is placing the blame on the consumer. Life has variables.

I am sorry, but an infant seat should NOT come flying off of it’s base in a 35mph car accident. Some of the carseats also performed better using the seatbelts in the vehicle and not the LATCH system. I don’t have the LATCH system in any of my cars, but I was always lead to believe that it was much safer.

If you are in the market for an infant carseat you might want to check out their list. And then buy one of the two carseats that passed all the tests.

(When I looked at the photo closely I was surprised to see that it is a three point harness. I thought that all carseats had 5 point harnesses now. It should not be sold any longer for that reason alone.)