car seats again

ConsumerReports.org – Infant car seats 2/07: Safety alert, European models, Ratings

You’d think that in a car crash, infants in their cozy car seats would be the most protected passengers of all. But you’d be wrong, our tests reveal.

Cars and car seats can’t be sold unless they can withstand a 30-mph frontal crash. But most cars are also tested in a 35-mph frontal crash and in a 38-mph side crash. Car seats aren’t.

When we crash-tested infant car seats at the higher speeds vehicles routinely withstand, most failed disastrously. The car seats twisted violently or flew off their bases, in one case hurling a test dummy 30 feet across the lab.

I’ve been trying to write a rant on the topic, but can’t seem to get it organized. The fundamental issue for me is that:

- government officials don’t want to scare consumers, so publicly refuse to admit there are any problems.
- manufacturers slip through the cracks, doing the minimum possible to develop and sell products.
- both parties seem more interested in the appearance of safety than in actual risk analysis.

I do not believe that consumers are served by this process, but I’m at a loss to suggest alternatives…

Update 2007/01/21: The whole point is apparently moot:

CONSUMER REPORTS WITHDRAWS INFANT CAR SEAT REPORT

We withdrew the report immediately upon discovering a substantive issue that may have affected the original test results. The issue came to light based on new information received Tuesday night and Wednesday morning from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) concerning the speed at which our side-impact tests were conducted.

posted at 9:54 am on Friday, January 12, 2007 in Current Events, Links | Comments (1)

1 Comment

  1. Nita says:

    At least part of the problem is that the vast majority of consumers don’t want to have those facts. They want to believe that they’re safe. Hence, the vast overuse of antibiotics and antibiotic soaps, as opposed to working on developing healthy immune systems. shrug Government officials give what they’re demanded of in the populous. If people want the illusion of safety, why wouldn’t they give them that? Until there’s enough groundswell to do something different, there’s no incentive to the government to change the way they behave.

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