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.