Consumer Reports has published new ratings of 34 child safety seats after conducting frontal-impact crash tests using a new testing procedure. The testing system, which took more than two years to develop, is designed to evaluate the level of crash protection provided by infant car seats.
With the new testing, only 13 of the 34 seats received the top ranking of Best. Of those, the five best car seats, according to the report, were the Chicco KeyFit and KeyFit 30, the Combi Shuttle, the Cybex Aton 2, the Safety 1st onBoard 35 Air, and the Uppa Baby Mesa.
Of the remaining models, 16 car seats received the ranking of Better, and 5 seats were ranked Basic, which is the lowest ranking. Basic ratings were given to seats that detached from their bases on impact or whose bases split, or seats that had higher injury measures than the rest of the seats.
All of the car seats meet the federal standard for safety, and owners of Basic car seats should not assume they are unsafe, Jennifer Stockburger, director of operations at Consumer Reports' auto test center, said to The New York Times.
The car seats that received the Basic ranking, according to the New York Times, were the Evenflo Embrace 35, the Snugli Infant Car Seat, the Graco SnugRide Classic Connect, the Orbit Baby Infant Car Seat G2, and the Maxi-Cosi Prezi.
Under the new testing system, Consumer Reports raised the speed of the impact test from 30 to 35 mph and created a more realistic vehicle environment for the tests. They also had certified child safety passenger technicians evaluate the ease of use of each car seat based on 13 different criteria ranging from how heavy the seat is to the rear-facing-installation features.
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Consumer Reports continues its efforts to improve the marketplace and has developed a new test protocol for crash-testing child seats. As part of a rigorous, two and a half year process to develop the new test, we extensively studied published research on pediatric biomechanics and child-injury patterns in vehicle crashes. We also analyzed crash-test videos and data from crashes conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Transport Canada, and where appropriate, we conferred with other child passenger safety and automotive safety experts. We also reviewed our protocol with Dr. Priya Prasad, an outside consultant who is a respected expert in vehicle safety and injury biomechanics, with 40 years of experience.
Our latest infant seat ratings are based on tests conducted according to our new crash protocol at a contracted outside lab. We also performed in-house testing of both ease-of-use and fit-to-vehicle assessments on each seat. We combined the results of those three tests to determine the overall rating for each car seat, giving more weight to the combined scores of the ease-of-use and fit-to-vehicle testing than to the crash performance testing because optimal crash protection cannot be expected without proper use and secure installation.
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