Safety Archive

Safe and (Relatively) Inexpensive Newer Cars


Teen rdriversMany families put a high priority on vehicle safety for their kids.  Unfortunately, for various valid reasons, many are not able to go out and buy a brand new car with the latest safety features.  Perhaps others are buying a car for a teen or college student and want something safe, but don’t want them wrecking even a newer car!  Last year, the IIHS recently evaluated hundreds of cars to produce a list of models recommended for teens and recently updated the Safe and Affordable Used Vehicle Recommendations for Teens list for 2015.

I have somewhat different criteria for my teen driver.  For example, while I also exclude the smallest sub-compact and “micro” vehicles, I have no issue with my teen driving a compact sedan if it is close to 3,000 lbs., as long is it has great crash test results.  While compact cars do give up a little in terms of weight in a frontal crash, they are generally more maneuverable and easier to handle and park.  That’s a big deal for new drivers.  Not to mention the lower cost up front and for gasoline!  I am also more concerned about having top results in all the actual crash tests, including the new IIHS small overlap test, and less concerned about certain other results.

Unfortunately, the IIHS excludes compact sedans, even top models with many safety features and decent all-around crash test scores, including their own small overlap test.  In fact, some models they recommend do poorly in this newer test.  Most of their recommendations are well over $10,000.


My Requirements?

  1. 2011 or newer.  That means a much greater chance of finding critical safety features like stability control and side curtain airbags.  Plus this is the year the NHTSA began crash testing with its newer crash test system that doesn’t compare to models before 2011.
  2. Good visibility and handling.
  3. Stability control and side-curtain airbags.
  4. 4-star or better NHTSA overall rating
  5. No “Marginal” or “Poor” IIHS crash test results in ANY test, including the newer small overlap test
  6. No “2-star” or “1-star” ratings in any individual NHTSA crash test or rollover rating.
  7. Around $10,000 or less to buy (or lease over 3 years).
  8. No minicars, sub-compacts or any model below 2,750lbs.  Weight is a bad thing on roads, I know.  More mass means more kinetic energy and more wasted fuel.  But when the other guy is driving a 5,000 lb. truck, the smallest cars become splatter.  On the flip side, smaller cars are easier to drive and generally offer better handling as well.


What Can You Learn from an Oversized Dummy?


Not much, apparently. At least not in this case.

Side-Impact Test Q3 in RFO

Photo Credit: Consumer Reports

Recent feasibility testing of NHTSA’s proposed side-impact test, conducted by Consumer Reports, has found that the Q3 side-impact test dummy isn’t useful in evaluating the protection offered by rear-facing only seats (aka infant carseats). The reason? This dummy, which is meant to be the size of an average 3-year-old, is too big to fit in these seats. The head of the Q3 dummy extends beyond the protective confines of the shell. Clearly that’s bad from an injury risk standpoint. You never want the top of a child’s head to extend above the top of a rear-facing carseat. And you would think that this would translate into very high injury readings in the crash testing – but they actually found the opposite result. What the… ????

“Our tests showed that when the dummy’s head extended beyond the shell portion of the infant seat, the injury data also tended to be lower—despite the greater injury risk. Therefore, based on this data, we concluded that side-impact protection on these seats might be overrated. This is because, while the design would not actually provide improved impact safety, the data would be skewed by allowing for greater head excursion outside of the shell.”

Read the full article here:  More Change Needed for Car Seat Side-Impact Protection

Based on their findings, we agree with Consumer Reports that using the Q3 dummy in NHTSA’s proposed Side-Impact Test would be of little value in determining the protection offered by rear-facing only infant seats. Q3 is well-suited to test convertible seats in the rear-facing position but a smaller dummy that is similarly instrumented should be utilized to appropriately gauge the SIP provided by rear-facing only child restraints. We never want to unintentionally create a situation where manufacturers are “designing for the test” at the expense of performance in real world side-impact crashes.

To learn more about NHTSA’s proposed Side-Impact Test see our comprehensive article here:  NHTSA’s Proposed Side-Impact Testing Standard – the good, the bad and the interesting

Walk This Way


Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 10.50.13 AMAs the name would imply, CarseatBlog’s main focus is on keeping kids safe in cars. But children’s safety extends beyond the interior of the vehicle. With school in full swing and with International Walk to School Day (October 7) just around the corner, this is a good time to review pedestrian safety tips.

According to statistics from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, that hospital saw more children injured by cars than in cars. Between January 2010 and December 2014, the hospital admitted 163 children for serious injuries sustained as occupants in cars. During the same time period, it saw 343 children admitted for serious injuries sustained as pedestrians (and another 62 as bicyclists).Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 10.17.19 AM

SafeKids recently launched a very cool interactive infographic, aptly named “How to Not Get Hit by a Car.” It’s designed to help children and teens improve their safety as pedestrians.

The main tips:

  • Put down the cell phone. Distracted walking can be as deadly as distracted driving, and 1 in 5 high schoolers crosses the street distracted.
  • Use crosswalks. More than 80% of child pedestrian deaths are from crossing somewhere other than a crosswalk.
  • Wear light-colored or reflective clothes when walking at night. Of teen pedestrian deaths, 75% occur between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.
  • Watch for careless drivers. Look left, right, left, and keep looking as you’re crossing. Don’t assume that drivers see you.
  • Walk on sidewalks. If sidewalks aren’t available, walk facing traffic, and as far over as possible.
  • Watch for cars backing out of driveways and parking spaces. Again, don’t assume the drivers see you.
  • If you’re crossing more than one lane of traffic, check each lane. Pause before stepping into another lane of traffic and make eye contact with each driver.

Some other tips:

  • Make sure children wear helmets any time they’re on a bike.
  • Teach children hand signals for bicycles, and make sure they recognize them even when they’re not the ones on the bikes: They need to know what bicyclists on the road are doing.
  • According to SafeKids, children under 10 should cross the street with an adult. Younger kids don’t have the ability to properly judge the speed and distance of approaching traffic.


Recaro Recalls Certain ProRide and Performance Ride Convertible Seats


Today Recaro Child Safety announced a recall of convertible seats made between April 9, 2010 and June 9, 2015.  Over 173,000 carseats are affected.  These child restraints do not fully comply with the system integrity requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 213. “When the affected child seats are installed using the top tether, the top portion of the restraint can crack and allow the top tether to separate from the restraint. As such, these seats fail to conform to the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 213, “Child Restraint Systems.” In the event of a crash, the child restraint could fail to protect the child from contacting interior surfaces of the vehicle, increasing the risk of injury.

Recaro submitted a petition for an exemption of non-compliance in July, 2014, and the NHTSA denied Recaro’s petition in July, 2015, after a public comment period in November, 2014.  “NHTSA’S Decision: In consideration of the foregoing, NHTSA has decided that the ProRIDE and Performance RIDE’s noncompliance poses a risk to safety and is therefore not inconsequential. Recaro has not met its burden of persuasion that the FMVSS No. 213 noncompliance identified in Recaro’s noncompliance information report is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety. Accordingly, Recaro’s petition is hereby denied and Recaro is obligated to provide notification of, and a remedy for, that noncompliance under 49 U.S.C. 30118 and 30120.”  The NHTSA also has recall related information.


Recaro ProRIDE convertible

Recaro ProRIDE convertible

Recaro Performance RIDE convertible

Recaro Performance RIDE convertible

What’s the Fix:

The remedy kit consists of a load limiting strap and instructions on how to install it on your carseat.

If you are a ProRIDE or Performance RIDE owner currently using a now-recalled seat, here’s our advice:

  • If you are using your ProRIDE or Performance RIDE convertible in the rear-facing position – you still need to contact Recaro for the recall fix, but the issue with the tether potentially separating from the shell doesn’t apply in your situation because that’s only a concern when the seat is installed forward-facing.
  • If you are using your ProRIDE or Performance RIDE convertible in the forward-facing position – consider whether or not your child could actually use this seat in the rear-facing position until you are able to obtain the recall fix kit. If your child weighs less than the rear-facing weight limit (which is either 35 or 40 lbs., depending on when your seat was made) and your child has a seated height (measure bottom of tush to top of head) of less than 22.5 inches tall – he or she can still use the seat rear-facing and you avoid the potential issue with the tether.
  • If you are using your ProRIDE or Performance RIDE convertible in the forward-facing position and using it rear-facing isn’t an option, please read Recaro’s statement below:

Recaro USA has issued the following statement:

What You Should Do:

During applicable tests conducted by NHTSA, the dynamic test scores that directly affect the child were still within the limits allowed by the FMVSS 213 standard, hence, you should continue to use your RECARO ProRIDE or Performance RIDE as instructed in your manual. You may check the model number and manufacture date on your child restraint to see if it is affected by this notice. You can find the model number and manufacture date on a white label on the left side of your child restraint. If your model is affected please email or call our customer service team at 1-866-628-4750 to obtain a repair kit. The repair kit will consist of a load limiting strap and instructions on how to install it in a vehicle.

Look for model numbers of 332.01.AK21, 332.01.KAEC, 332.01.KAEG, 332.01.KK91, 332.01.MC11, 332.01.MJ15, 332.01.QA56, 332.01.QA9N, 332.01.QQ11, 332.01.QQ14, 332.01.QQ95, 333.01.CHIL, 333.01.HABB, 333.01.HAZE, 333.01.JEBB, 333.01.JETT, 333.01.KNGT, 333.01.MABB, 333.01.MARI, 333.01.MNGT, 333.01.PLBB, 333.01.PLUM, 333.01.REBB, 333.01.REDD, 333.01.ROBB, 333.01.ROSE, 333.01.SABB, 333.01.SAPH, 333.01.SLBB, 333.01.SLTE, 333.01.VIBB, 333.01.VIBE and manufacturing dates between April 9, 2010 – June 9, 2015.

You can also order a fix kit directly by visiting Please be prepared to enter your model number and manufacture date of your child restraint.