Consumer Reports retracts it’s study on infant carseats

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.

8 Responses to “Consumer Reports retracts it’s study on infant carseats”

  1. Brigitte Says:

    I agree 100% Chris! Now I feel lucky that my baby survived her infant carseat period . . .

  2. Ang Says:

    My first thought when I heard that the tests were done at 70 mph - “Thank goodness.” If a seat passes a 70 mph test I am definitely more likely to purchase it. I too find it frustrating that the seats are only required to be tested at 35 mph - my kiddos are in a car that goes at least 55 mph every . single . day. I sometimes wish that adult seatbelts came in a 5 point harness. My husband says that no one would wear them - I think he underestimates the power of mothers.

  3. Wendy Says:

    I was a bit smug knowing that I had purchased a carseat that passed Consumer Reports testing. I am still happy that I bought that seat, even though I didnt research it. I relied on it being rated number one by CR in 2002, when my daughter was born. Just for the record I am not using the 2002 carseat.

    I think if companies are only going by the government standards then they are only doing the bare minimum.

  4. jody Says:

    I am with you. I mean, I think that a carseat should perform as manufactured at 32mph as well as 70mph.

    So, the seats failed at 70……I am certainly not planning to rush out and buy a seat that will not protect my child on the highway.

  5. Robyn Says:

    To expect a carseat to protect your kid at 70 mph, is pretty crazy. Your seatbelt at that speed, probably won’t protect you all that well either. 70 mph car crashes are often fatal for all parties.

    Although, the stock for the two companies that passed just has to be going up. If I had an infant, I’d sure be being one of the two.

  6. Liesel Elliott Says:

    Not that long ago my family was in a car crash that totaled our car. We were doing 35 mph or less when we were hit from behind. Let me tell you, even at that slow speed, the damage was devastating.

    The good news? My son was in the back of the car in a Recaro booster seat - he didn’t get hurt at all! I had bought the seat because it was the only one I found that was recommended by chiropracters and he had been having some back problems. I am so so glad I spent my money on it.

    I agree with the other commenters about being more likely to purchase a car seat that was tested as safe in a 70mph crash - of course!

  7. wookie Says:

    I’m with Robyn. At 70mph, not much is going to save your ass. That’s pretty fatal territory for a crash, no matter who you are.

    That being said, I would absolutely purchase the seat that had performed well at the higher speeds.

  8. Rachel Says:

    It is not that I expect my child to come out of a 70mph wreck unharmed, but I certainly wouldn’t expect the carseat to come flying off the base! So in a sense yes, I think we should be able to expect carseats to preform at 70mph. They should at least hold the child in the seat, and the seat should remain in the car where it is supposed to be. That being said, I had a Snugride with my first child and will use one again with the next. Now I wish they would just ‘mistakenly’ test toddler car seats with the same conditions!