News Archive

The Scoop on the IIHS Booster Seat Tests: From “Best Bet” to “Not Recommended”


Recaro Young Sport - BPB 4Today the IIHS released the results of its second round of booster seat fit tests.  They tested 60 seats and grouped the results into 4 performance categories – Best Bets, Good Bets, (Questionable or Inconsistent) and Not Recommended.   All the tests were conducted using the 6-year-old Hybrid III dummy which weighs 51.6 lbs, has an overall height of almost 45″ tall, and a seated height of 25″.  These results evaluate belt fit – not crash protection.  In each case, the boosters were given a total of 8 scores – 4 for lap belt fit and 4 for shoulder belt fit.  The 4 conditions span the range of seatbelt configurations in different vehicles.  The overall rating that each booster received was based on the range of scores for each measurement.

The Today Show ran a segment this morning on the results of this testing and they even interviewed our very own Darren Qunell!  High-fives going out to the Qunell kids for being such great booster models!

This second round of tests cannot be directly compared with the 1st round of test results from the IIHS because the engineers have modified the test device and protocol.  These changes will supposedly make it easier for manufacturers to reliably reproduce the results.  This probably explains why the Combi Kobuk highback model dropped from a “Good Bet” in the 1st round of testing to a “Not Recommended” in this second round.  It is worth mentioning that the Kobuk when used without the back portion (as a backless booster) was rated a “Best Bet” in both the 1st and 2nd rounds of IIHS testing.  Unfortunately, The Kobuk is not currently available in just a backless version so consumers would have no choice but to buy the full highback version if they wanted this “Best Bet” pick.  

CarseatBlog Issues Warning on Consumer Reports – Labels Their Carseat Reviews a “Don’t Read: Nonsense Risk”


CR Magazine

It’s like Déjà vu. All over again.    

As we previously reported on CarseatBlog – Consumer Reports made some wild claims about the Orbit Baby infant carseat back in August.  They claimed that the carseat detached from its base during testing and labeled the popular (and pricey) product a “Don’t Buy – Safety Risk”.  Orbit Baby fought back and claimed that their own safety compliance testing contradicted the CR test results. They also claimed, and CR acknowledged, that the infant seats were not installed according to the directions.  All this led to massive confusion as consumers were left wondering who to trust. 

It seems that we finally have an answer thanks to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  NHTSA, for those of you who may be new to the world of Child Passenger Safety (CPS), is the federal agency responsible for setting performance standards and compliance testing carseats to ensure that they meet the standards.  Well… shock of all shocks,  NHTSA found nothing to support CR’s claims that the Orbit Baby infant carseat didn’t meet federal standards and was unsafe to use.  You can read all about NHTSA’s conclusions and their letter to Consumer Reports on the Orbit Baby issue HERE.  

Seatbelt Airbags: Cure for Seatbelt Syndrome?


This new technology appears to be promising for reducing motor vehicle crash related injuries and fatalities.  It is also aimed at protecting children, a nice change from most technologies that are designed for adult passengers.

Kudos to Ford for moving technology ahead in the area of child passenger safety!  Hopefully, this feature will be widely available and, if proven effective, widely accepted by consumers.

It’s Super-Freaky, Yow.


Authors Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner are making the media rounds again.  They have a new book, SuperFreakonomics.  Yes, ironically, you can buy it through our Amazon affiliate program link and we make some money advocating child passenger safety if you buy their book!  Aint capitalism great?  Anyway, as you may or may not remember, these authors had some interesting research over the last few years that claimed to show a seatbelt is just about as effective as a booster or other child safety seat in preventing child passenger fatalities for toddlers and older kids.  In a New York Times article from 2005, they even suggested parents might spend their money on a DVD player instead of a carseat or booster seat and get the same result for kids 2 and over.

That was a very controversial finding, because they used the very same government FARS database often used by expert researchers in the area of injury prevention.  The insinuation was that the government and child safety seat manufacturers conspired to foist these expensive devices upon parents, even though they offer minimal benefit.  Critics spoke up quickly, touting that the authors didn’t consider crashes with injuries, that their crash testing didn’t measure abdominal injury or that their conclusions were flawed due to various other factors.  Later, studies were finally published that showed child safety seats and boosters did show significant improvements in safety for both fatalities and injuries, using the same government statistics as Freakonomics used.  The authors then countered with new data of their own.  The differences?  Each set of researchers apparently used the different sets of data or used the same statistics in a different way.  They controlled variables in a different manner, perhaps over a different period of years or by omitting various factors they considered to skew the data inappropriately for one reason or another. So, it is still very difficult for me to tell you who is right or even who to trust on this issue.