Chicago Tribune reports on unsafe car seats
On March 1, the Chicago Tribune filed an article that questioned the safety of infant child seats. It noted that government crash tests conducted during the 2008 model year by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration documented apparent child seat failures but were never released for public scrutiny. Of 66 devices tested, nearly half (31) either separated from the seat base or exceeded documented injury limits. The results were so "troubling" according to the Tribune, that two car seat models were recalled and one manufacturer completely overhauled how it evaluates child seat safety.
The current Transportation Secretary has ordered a complete "top to bottom review" of child safety seat regulations as a result of criticism of the agency's failure to act in response to the government crash tests. In 2007, 63 babies died and about 7000 were injured in motor vehicle accidents, despite being strapped into approved infant restraints. By law, all seats are required to pass a 30 mph head-on collision safety test prior to marketing. The Evenflo Discovery Infant Seats completely failed side-impact testing, apparently, leading to the recall of one million units. Combi Centre seats were also recalled when they performed badly in 35 mile-per-hour impact testing. The manufacturer and Joan Claybrook of Public Citizen blamed the previous testing protocol for the seat failures, and the manufacturer has created a new method of product testing.
The study confirmed that injuries occur frequently, even with properly installed seats, and documented the inaccuracy of manufacturers' frequently-stated claims that injuries were the result of improper installation of the seats in vehicles.