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Safety Archive

Child ID Labels for Car Seats

WHALE logoIn the July 2008 edition of SafetyBeltSafe News, there was an article about a woman in Oklahoma who wants all car seats to have occupant identification labels on them.  I think this is a great idea!  I’ve had make your own labels on my web site since before it became CarSeatSite.com–it just seems obvious to me that you’d want something on the seat identifying your child if you are incapacitated.

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!     http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/26184891/vp/34521238#34521238

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.  

Buying a Safe Car

Winter is here.  That means good deals on new cars!  The excitement over the introduction of 2010 models is long gone.  Cash for Clunkers is a distant memory.  The economy isn’t doing much to promote sales, either.  Combine that with sales incentives for the last month and last quarter of the year, and the planets are starting to align for great deals.

But how to buy a safe one for your family?  Obviously, you should find one that has good visibility and a good driving position.  It should be comfortable for you and have conveniently located controls to prevent distractions.  Don’t settle for a 10 minute test drive.  Ask for an extended one or to borrow it overnight.  Unless it’s a model dealers can’t keep on the lot, they will probably let you.

As for crash safety, there’s one tool that can help you compare vehicles, especially those of different classes.  If you simply look at the IIHS or NHTSA results separately, you cant compare a compact to a midsize or an SUV to a sedan.  InformedForLife takes the NHTSA and IIHS results and compiles them using research from published studies.  It gives you a composite score you can compare to any vehicle in its database.  We’ve mentioned it in the past and it’s still the best tool for vehicle safety comparisons today.

It’s not foolproof, though.  Sometimes, some vehicles haven’t been put through all the tests by the IIHS or NHTSA.  For any missing tests, InformedForLife assigns a “typical” result for the class of vehicle.  That means that the overall score may change when all the test results are eventually completed and entered into the database.  For models where a full set of crash tests are available, it’s a great tool to find a safe car.

A Critical Safety Device

Obviously, we think child safety seats are very important for protecting your children from their #1 killer, motor vehicle crashes.  There’s another safety feature just as critical and it helps protect the whole family.  It’s the one you probably never think about until it’s too late: your tires.  Especially in winter months with rain and snow common in most areas, they are even more important.  Making sure your tires have adequate tread depth and air pressure is something you should check right now.  Don’t wait until you start sliding off the road or get a blowout.  A tire that is half worn may have tens of thousands of good miles left on dry pavement, but it will lose a lot of rain and snow traction compared to a new tire with full tread.  If you live in a very rainy or snowy area, you might even consider new tires before  you get to the treadwear indicators.  And don’t forget that proper inflation not only helps for safety, but also for fuel economy!

Here is some basic information from the NHTSA on tire safety.  Also, Edmunds has a good article on tire fundamentals.  These are a great read if you haven’t thought about your tires in a while.  Good quality tires in good condition can help make sure that you never have to depend on your child safety seats or seat belts!