News Archive

The Safest Convertible Carseats? New 2015 Crash Protection Ratings and Methods from Consumer Reports

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Best, Better or Basic Crash Protection Rating?  How does your convertible compare?

Over 18 months ago, Consumer Reports implemented a new, more rigorous crash test for carseats and released the results for their rear-facing only infant seat tests. CR’s goal in creating the new test and criteria in rating seats wasn’t to recreate the wheel; every carseat on the market in the U.S. must be able to pass a basic crash test to be sold and thus considered safe. Consumer Reports wanted to find out which seats provide the best head protection since head injuries are very common in crashes, even among properly restrained children.

CR convertible crash test

This new test was designed by an automotive safety engineer and peer-reviewed by an independent crash-testing expert with 40 years of experience in the field. It is conducted on an actual contemporary vehicle seat (a 2010 Ford Flex 2nd row seat) with a floor below it, unlike the government test which has a 70’s era back seat test bench with no floor. There’s a simulated front seat back, called the blocker plate, installed in front of the test seat to mimic a front seat, which is used to test potential injury.  The speed of the test is set at 35 mph. Testing is performed at an independent, outside testing facility. The new “Crash Protection” ratings scale will no longer use the circular blobs, but will instead indicate “basic,” “better,” or “best” at providing crash protection above and beyond baseline safety standards. Those who follow vehicle ratings will recognize the 35 mph test as the same speed that at which the NHTSA NCAP test for vehicles is run. CR’s new test applies 36% more energy to carseats than their old test protocol.  A more severe test would presumably show greater distinction among carseat performance.

So what did CR’s 2015 tests of current convertible carseats find? Specifically, only in 1 rear-facing test out of 25 (4%) did one dummy’s head strike the blocker plate, or simulated front seatback. In contrast, in the infant seat tests, 16 out of 30 (53%) infant seats tested had dummies striking the blocker plate. What does this mean for your child? It means a taller carseat will provide better head protection for taller babies. For this reason Consumer Reports now recommends moving your baby into a rear-facing convertible “sooner, rather than later”, and not waiting until the infant seat is maxed out.

Consumer Reports crash tested convertible carseats in up to 7 configurations,

2015 IIHS Booster Ratings: Ranking the Safest Boosters

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IIHS Awards “Best Bet” to 20 Models of Child Booster SeatsJenny

Every year, the list of great boosters for kids gets bigger and bigger, according to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety. Parents and caregivers have an easier task of finding a belt-positioning booster seat that will provide their child with a safe seat belt fit. The IIHS evaluated 23 highback and backless models for optimum seat belt fit on a 6 year old dummy; fit is determined by how well the seat belt lies across the shoulder and thighs. The booster is given a rating of “Best Bet,” “Good Bet,” “Check Fit,” or “Not Recommended.”

Booster seats are for an age group of kids (about 5-11) that are commonly known as the “forgotten kids” of child passenger safety. Well, *we* haven’t forgotten them, but they slide through the cracks of safety because they’re too big for convertible carseats and too small for the vehicle seat belt to fit safely. A recent Safe Kids survey found that 86% of parents switched their kids to just the vehicle seat belt before it fit properly. While you may frequently hear that it’s OK to move your child to a vehicle seat belt when he’s 4’9″ tall, as parents, we at CarseatBlog know our children didn’t fit in our vehicles using just the seat belt at that minimum height suggestion. Remember, these are adult seat belts so your kids must be adult-sized to use them. Until then, booster seats are the way to go.

What do the ratings mean? A “Best Bet” rating means it should correctly position the seat belt on a typical 4-8 year old child in most vehicles. But remember, your vehicle may not be “most” vehicles and may have a different belt geometry. Always try before you buy, if you can, and hold onto the box and receipt in case you need to return the booster.

A “Good Bet” means that the belt fit will be acceptable in most vehicles and these boosters shouldn’t be automatically shunned because they aren’t “top tier.” “Check Fit” means just that: it may fit a larger child better than a smaller child in some vehicles or vice versa. I’ve used “Check Fit” boosters quite successfully before with my kids in my cars—it definitely doesn’t mean you should chuck the seat out with the baby’s bathwater.

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