News Archive

Government Calls for Lap/Shoulder Seat Belts on School Buses

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NHTSA Pushes Lawmakers and School Districts to Enhance Safety for Children on School Buses

School BusAccording to recent remarks made by NHTSA Administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind for the National Association for Pupil Transportation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will shift its position to endorse 3-point lap/shoulder seatbelts on school buses.

As NHTSA’s administrator, my primary role is as the leader of our agency. NHTSA has not always spoken with a clear voice on the issue of seat belts on school buses. So let me clear up any ambiguity now: The position of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is that seat belts save lives. That is true whether in a passenger car or in a big yellow bus. And saving lives is what we are about. So NHTSA’s policy is that every child on every school bus should have a three-point seat belt. NHTSA will seek to use all the tools at our disposal to help achieve that goal, and today I want to launch a nationwide effort to get us there.

Is this a change in position? Yes. But it is consistent with NHTSA’s role as the guardian of safety on America’s roads. It is consistent with decades of progress in raising seat belts in the minds of the public from novelty to nuisance to “the car doesn’t move until I hear that click.” Seat belts are icons of safety. And that makes them the single most effective thing we can provide to improve the confidence of parents, policymakers and children. Without seat belts on buses, there is a gaping, obvious hole in our safety measures that sparks questions all of us have to answer. With seat belts, we can build momentum for student pedestrian safety, enhanced enforcement, and more.

Photo Credit: Safeguard4kids

Photo Credit: Safeguard4kids

While school buses are among the safest methods of transportation due to size, mass, visibility, driver experience and other factors, seatbelts would make them even safer. Seatbelts would also make large buses compatible with child safety seats for younger kids. Smaller school buses are already being transitioned to lap and shoulder belt systems. Concerns include cost and passenger capacity, which could reduce the number of children served by buses, possibly forcing some to other means of transportation. Currently, states determine if large school buses require seatbelts. Six states currently require either lap or lap/shoulder belts, but some of these mandates remain unfunded.

According to NHTSA, approximately 4 school age children (5-18 years old) who are occupants of large school buses are killed annually. Assuming 100% seat belt use, a Federal mandate for lap/shoulder belts could save 2 lives annually. Passenger car fatality rates are over 7 times higher overall.

It is still worth noting that most published comparisons between cars and buses use overall car fatality rates where fatal injuries are dominated by unrestrained occupants and crashes where the car driver is a teen or is under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Overall rates also don’t take into account that many car fatalities happen with greater frequency during overnight hours, evening rush hours and during summer months when school buses may not be operating. So, the rates for a grade school child transported by a parent or adult caregiver in an appropriate restraint system in the back seat of a family vehicle would presumably be closer to the rates observed in school buses.

Even so, CarseatBlog applauds NHTSA’s new goal that could cut school bus fatalities nearly in half, and significantly reduce many more preventable injuries, making large school buses safer than any alternative. The consistency of message for a child to buckle-up anytime they are in a vehicle is also extremely important. The American Academy of Pediatrics also endorses such a policy.

The AAP recommends that all children travel in age-appropriate, properly secured child-restraint systems when transported in all motor vehicles, including school buses, to ensure the safest ride possible. The AAP further recommends that all newly manufactured school buses be equipped with lap/shoulder restraint systems that can also accommodate car safety seats, booster seats, and harness systems. The AAP recognizes the added benefit of improved student behavior and consistent habits of restraint use when traveling in motor vehicles. Policies on seat belt use have been found to improve student behavior and reduce driver distraction.

ABC Kids Expo 2015 – Peg Perego

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What’s new from Peg Perego? Boosters Boosters Boosters!

Viaggio Flex Highback Booster

Peg will be introducing a new highback FOLDING booster called the Viaggio Flex. It has–wait for it–no armrests! Great for those 3-across situations and tight installations where it’s hard to get your hand, or your child’s hand, down in to buckle. They’re guessing the weight limit might be 40-100 lbs, but everything is preliminary at this point. The Viaggio Flex adjusts in height in 2 steps: at the head rest and at the torso (dual height adjustment zones). ETA: May 2016 $299 Rejoice Canada! You’ll see this booster too.

Peg Viaggio flex side Peg Flex - frontish Peg Flex measurement

 Peg Flex fold 2Peg Flex fold Peg flex back

Peg Flex - side LATCH

Shuttle Backless Booster

The Shuttle backless booster goes from 40-100 lbs. and has rigid LATCH. It has a seat pan of EPS foam for the child to sit on, plus another layer of comfort cushioning–just as you’d expect from Peg. There’s a retractable shoulder belt guide using a standard harness release to extend it (a-lock, for those in-the-know), so it won’t be flopping in the way when you carry it. We measured it at 15″ deep and 16″ wide. Peg is expecting a May 2016 release date with at $99. Canada, Peg Perego loves you again 🙂 .

Peg Shuttle - front Peg Shuttle - side and showing latch Peg Shuttle - width Peg Shuttle - depth

New Primo Viaggio convertible fashions: Camo and Techo Viaggio (evidently camo is big in Europe—who knew?!!)

Peg - new camo fashion Peg - Techno fashion

ABC Kids Expo 2015 – Graco Extend2Fit Convertible (Shut Up and Take My Money) Preview

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Extend-to-Fit front

Update: Please read our Graco Extend2Fit REVIEW

One of the most eagerly anticipated seats at the ABC Kids Expo this year is Graco’s Extend2Fit convertible. What sets this seat apart is an innovative leg rest/seat extender that gives rear-facing children more legroom. Although we know that bent legs don’t pose a safety hazard, and we know that kids tend to be little contortionists, lots of parents worry that their kids look uncomfortable rear-facing and use squished legs as a reason to turn kids forward-facing, often before they should. Graco hopes to combat that worry with the Extend2Fit.

The seat we saw was a prototype so the soft goods and some other aspects might change a bit, but we liked what we saw.

The details:

  • 4-50 lbs. rear-facing
  • 22-65 lbs. and 49″ or less forward-facing
  • Infant insert
  • 10-position harness height, maxing out at 18 inches
  • 6-position recline (3 positions for forward-facing; 3 for rear-facing)
  • 17″ seat depth with panel extended
  • Steel reinforced shell
  • 10-year expiration

We were concerned that the Extend2Fit’s expandable seating area might cause the seat to take up an excessive amount of room in the car, but I don’t think that will be a problem. When we put the seat in the most upright rear-facing position and extended the panel, the seat took up only about 28″. Graco said they’ve done extensive fit-to-vehicle testing and found that in most cases, an average-sized man should be able to sit comfortably in the front seat.

Extend-to-fit smallest size Extend-to-Fit largest size

With a tall shell and a 50-lb rear-facing weight limit, this looks like it will be a great fit for larger rear-facing kids, yet it should still fit newborns well, too. Here’s Romeo modeling:

IMG_0649

The seat will be available in three colors, plus there will be retailer-specific fashions. The Extend2Fit should be shipping in November and should hit stores in January. Retail price is expected to be $199.

News: Acura Earns Highest Safety Ratings on ALL 2015 models. Two Dorel Boosters Re-Evaluated by IIHS.

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Acura Safety v3.0We commend Acura for achieving top overall ratings from the IIHS and NHTSA on every current model!  We awarded the Acura MDX honors as the safest 2015 SUV in a recent article, and would like to acknowledge vehicle manufacturers that place an emphasis on safety.  Acura claims to be the first and only auto manufacturer to earn a 5-star Overall vehicle score from the NHTSA NCAP program, AND a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the IIHS across its entire 2015 model line (IIHS TSP+ rating when equipped with collision mitigation braking systems).  Congrats!

CarseatBlog emphasizes crash test ratings and advanced safety features in all our auto reviews.  We strongly encourage other manufacturers to put safety first and to make crash test ratings a top priority for ALL vehicles, as Acura has done.  To put it simply, an NHTSA “5-star” overall rating and IIHS “Top Safety Pick” rating is something every buyer should require in a vehicle.  No new vehicles today should earn anything less than a “4-star” rating from the NHTSA or less than an “Acceptable” rating from the IIHS in any individual crash test result.  Period.

We also encourage all auto makers to equip advanced crash avoidance technologies as standard whenever possible, especially on top trim levels and luxury vehicles.  On economy models and lower trim levels, these features should be readily available in a relatively low cost options package.  All too often, collision mitigation braking systems necessary to qualify for the IIHS Top Safety Pick “+” aware are a hard-to-find option and only on the most expensive trim level.  Then you must tack on thousands of dollars more for a safety technology package, if you can even find one at all on dealer’s lots!  That type of obsolete marketing is NOT putting customers and safety first.

http://www.acura.com/PressReleaseArticle.aspx?category=general&year=2015&id=8699-en#~prcSoSMD1munS6

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booster_safety-1st_summit-65In other news, the IIHS is correcting two “BEST BET” booster recommendations from 2014.  The Eddie Bauer Deluxe Highback 65 and Safety 1st Summit 65 were given the top rating in error.  The revised rating is “Not Recommended”.  According to the IIHS:

The concern about the Eddie Bauer Deluxe Highback 65 and Safety 1st Summit 65, both manufactured by Dorel Juvenile, is that while the shoulder belt crosses the child’s body at the middle of the shoulder, it is positioned too far forward. In that position, the shoulder belt would be less effective in a crash.

The IIHS states that these models were inadvertently evaluated to the protocol used prior to 2014.  They also note that these ratings only apply to these models in booster mode, and DO NOT apply when used with the 5-point harness system.  Below, you can see the difference between a Good (left) and Poor (right) shoulder belt fit in regard to contact at the shoulder (courtesy of IIHS):

Booster-GOOD-FIT-IIHS (00000002) Booster-POOR-FIT-IIHS

www.iihs.org/iihs/news/desktopnews/iihs-corrects-booster-ratings-2-best-bets-awarded-in-error