Consumer Reports Withdraws Car Seat Report
Consumer Reports Communications Dept Response To PR Communications Questions

Consumer Reports Reputation Damaged, However Do Child Car Seat Crash Test Speeds Need To Be Revised?

The sad factor in the retraction of the Consumer Reports car seat test data report is that the organization’s credibility has been seriously shaken. All reports from the organization should be reviewed cautiously; it will take some work for Consumer Reports to rebuild its credibility. Perhaps releasing how its studies were conducted and who by would be a step in the right direction.

However, even though these tests have affected Consumer Report’s reputation, if the tests were conducted at higher speeds than reported in the Consumer Reports, and many of the car seats did fail at those higher speeds. Should we be asking ourselves do you want to have your child sitting in a car seat that fails a 70 mph car seat test? I’d like to know the average speed of most accidents, if its over 35 mph, the speed at which most car seats are currently tested then maybe its time to revise the speed at which such tests are conducted.

Consumer Reports had the opportunity to conduct a debate in the community about the speed at which car seats should be crash tested. That debate might eventually lead to significant changes in the manufacturer and safety of child car seats. Instead we are all left wondering if the organization can be trusted.

Here are a few perspectives on the issue from blogs and consumers:

A blog for all asks,

" Two of the seats actually passed this flawed test. Does this mean that they can protect an infant successfully up to the speeds indicated in the flawed test? The Graco Snug Ride with EPS passed at the higher test speed of 70 mph. So even if they retest at the mandated level of 38.5 mph, would you get the seat that passed at 38.5 mph but failed at 70 mph or get the seat that still passed at 70 mph? He would go with the one that passed at the higher speed."

Mamma Knows Breaststates,

"If these seats were actually tested at 70 m.p.h, and they "failed disastrously," then maybe the seats really are dangerous. Honestly, don't most of us drive on highways from time to time? If so, we're not going 38 m.p.h., that's for sure.

In which case, maybe it's NHTSA which should come under a bit of scrutiny here. According to the New York Times, NHTSA only requires car seats to pass a test at 30 m.p.h.

The federal government requires that the seats protect babies in front impacts of 30 m.p.h. The highway traffic safety agency said it was trying to develop a side-impact standard. It rates cars under a New Car Assessment Program, which it uses to award “stars” to each model, and those are done at 38 m.p.h. for side impact.

So, while I'm disappointed in Consumer Reports, I do think there may just be a kernel worth hanging on to in their report. "

An MSNBC article, "Readers defend, deride Consumer Reports," focuses on two opinions one people are upset with Consumer Reports for bundling the release of their report, and two people are questioning whether 35 mph is fast enough for testing car seats.

MySpace user Fraidy Kat said,


Face it, the 30-40 mph tests have been INADEQUATE since the freeways raised their speed limits from 55. It is quite normal in Arizona to encounter the average freeway traffic to be up near 80-90 mph, while inner citty traffic is often near 45-55 mph."

Orange County Personal Injury Lawyer worries about his Granddaughter,

"The implication I get from what NHTSA has to say about the Consumer Reports testing is that at 70+ miles per hour, most of the seats failed, not 38 miles per hour. Although the testing and reporting was flawed, we now know which seats held up best in a high-speed collision. I want my granddaughter in the seats that held up in the high speed testing. I cannot count on a negligent driver going 38 instead of 70 mph."

Freakonomics asks Consumer Reports to conduct better testing on adult seat belts for older kids.