Consumer Reports Retracts Car Seat Study
Consumer Reports is retracting its car seat report after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it had found flaws in its side-impact testing methods.
A quick recap: Consumer Reports tried to raise the bar on child safety seat testing by putting 12 popular car seats through 35 mph frontal and 38 mph side-impact crash tests. CR chose those speeds because they are the government standard for crash testing vehicles. Currently, federal standards require car seats be tested only in 30 mph frontal crash tests.
CR found that 10 seats failed and flew off their bases. One seat, the Evenflo Discovery, failed even at 30 mph. CR demanded NHTSA immediately recall it. Evenflo strongly disputed CR's findings.
After CR came out with its report earlier this month, NHTSA asked to review its data. Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, the agency apparently relayed its preliminary conclusions to CR, which promptly pulled the report pending further testing.
NHTSA administrator Nicole Nason said its initial review of the Consumer Reports testing procedures "showed a significant error in the manner in which it conducted and reported on its side-impact tests. The organization's data show its side-impact tests were actually conducted under conditions that would represent being struck in excess of 70 mph, twice as fast as the group claimed. When NHTSA tested the same child seats in conditions representing the 38.5 mph conditions claimed by Consumer Reports, the seats stayed in their bases as they should, instead of failing dramatically."
Consumer Reports put out a statement saying, "Our tests were intended to simulate side crashes at the NCAP speed of 38 mph. The new information raises a question about whether the tests accurately simulated that speed, however, so we are now reviewing our tests and the resulting article."
What does this mean for you and me?
Well, until this gets sorted out, both sides reiterate that it's always better to use a car seat than not to use one at all.
CR also asked consumers "to suspend judgment on the merits of individual products until the new testing has been completed and the report re-published."
CR had previously recommended consumers who have car seats that failed its testing to keep using them, but to attach them to the car with seat belts and not the LATCH system. We'll see if they stick by their guns on this one following the latest round of tests.
We'll let you know as soon as we do what the new results are. Until then, my question for you is: Does the retraction shake your faith in Consumer Reports?
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