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Monthly Archive:: March 2009

Euro NCAP: Leaving us in the dust (Part I)

We spent all of last week trying to make some sense out of the issues relating to the Tribune article.  What happened?  Are we doing enough to ensure that our kids are safe?  Do we need more testing?  If so, how should we implement new tests and define testing parameters?  How would CR manufacturers comply with new regulations or supplemental tests?  Would new CR designs make seats harder to use properly and increase their prices substantially?   

I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers.  However, this problem of how best to protect occupants of all ages and sizes in motor vehicles isn’t just a problem for America – it’s a global issue.  Child restraints, laws, vehicle features and occupant restraint systems may vary from country to country but the same laws of physics apply to all of us.  Therefore, it makes sense to look at other parts of the world to see how they’re tackling these complex issues.   

After a little research – I’m sad to report that many other parts of the world are kicking our butts with their NCAP testing.  Europe, Japan and Australia all have superior NCAP programs.  I didn’t thoroughly research the Japanese or Australian programs but I did research the European NCAP and our own program is so many years behind that it’s embarrassing.  

Our vehicle testing regimen remains virtually the same now as it was when it began - in 1978.  The only major addition has been a wimpy, side-impact test that they added in 1996.  Honestly, if it wasn’t for the IIHS picking up the slack – we’d still be in the dark ages.   

Let’s take a closer look at the Euro NCAP program…. 

Marvin’s Giveaway Corner #5: Got LATCH?

Today’s giveaway is….PINK!  It’s the 2009 edition of the LATCH Manual by Safe Ride News.  This is the reference you need to answer almost any question about child restraints or vehicles pertaining to the system of lower anchors and tethers.

To enter, simply reply with a comment!  One entry per person.  If you reply more than once, only the first comment will count.  The winner will be selected at random on Tuesday morning!

Marvin politely requests that you do not enter the contest if you already have the 2009 LATCH Manual or will be getting a copy through your organization.

Infant Seats and Crash Testing: What Do We Know?

Infant seats detaching from their base are nothing new.  This issue has come up a number of times in the 10 years I’ve been involved in child passenger safety.  Testing seats with different methods is not a new thing, either.  This new research by the NHTSA put child seats in actual vehicles (rather than a test sled), during a frontal crash test.  Keep in mind that the vehicle crash test itself isn’t new, it basically the same as those that have been done for about 30 years in the NCAP program.  The result?  Some infant seats failed in a major way.  Consumer Reports made a big blunder over a year ago with an infant seat test.  Their report had a number of flaws, but the largest one was a lack of oversight that led to a test that simulated a much, much higher speed than intended.  Ironically, part of their mistake was because they didn’t consider that putting a child seat in a real vehicle allows the vehicle to absorb some of the crash energy.  This must be considered when you simulate a real crash on a sled.  The result?  Some infant seats failed in a major way.

Anyway, there’s still a lot we don’t know about these tests and the results.  It’s both premature and a little unfair to speculate on why some infant seats failed, on whether or not the new NHTSA research test was fair or even on the actual risks posed to infants in these particular seats.

There are a couple things we do know for certain, though. 

Combi Crash Tests – A Better Way?

We at CarseatBlog.com were intrigued to hear that Combi was doing additional above and beyond FMVSS 213 mandated car seat testing in Canada of their car seats.  Combi’s Director of Operations, Ed Whitaker, implemented the extra testing when he found out that the Combi Centre and Shuttle infant seats were detaching from their bases during NCAP testing of vehicles, but not during 213 testing.  Let’s recap that the 213 test car seats go through is tougher than 98% of all car crashes in the U.S.  It’s a very difficult test to pass and many experts in the field call it a “stiff” test.  Like Kecia mentioned in Monday’s blog, the extra testing done to the seats in the NCAP testing was just that: extra, above and beyond, let’s install them in the cars and see what happens kind of testing.  And some of them failed because they weren’t designed to pass that kind of test.

New Recaro Signo Recall

RECARO North America, Inc. is recalling certain Signo child restraint assemblies manufactured from February through September 2008. The central front adjuster strap on some seats may slip within the metal adjuster (A-Lock) that controls tightness of the harness, thereby preventing the harness from being properly tightened. If this condition existed and a vehicle crash occurred, the child would not be properly secured in their child restraint system and may sustain injury. RECARO will notify owners and replace any defective child restraint system free of charge. The recall is expected to begin during March 2009. Owners can contact RECARO customer service toll-free at 1-888-473-2290.

At this point, this is the only information that we have.  We weren’t able to find any additional information on Recaro’s website at the moment but we’ll continue to post additional details when they become available. 

In the mean time, if you own a Recaro Signo that was manufacturered from 2/2008 – 9/2008 please check your harness straps to make sure there isn’t any obvious slippage.