By Simone Samano, Writer
This month, Consumer Reports announced it has implemented a new car seat crash test protocol. The consumer organization believes these changes will better simulate the kind of accidents that unfortunately happen in the real world. In this new testing, the car seat being tested is secured onto a new bench made of stiffer materials that more closely mimic the average auto’s interior as well as the angle at which the car seat will likely sit. Second, the testing now incorporates a surface that approximates the back of the front seat, a common factor in frontal crash injuries. And the standard simulation speed of 30 mph for a frontal impact has been increased to 35 mph. Here’s a video explanation of the new testing:
Of course, testing is important, but it loses meaning if you don’t use the appropriate seat for your child. To find the right fit for your newborn, toddler, or elementary school kid, and to find tips for proper installation, try some of these resources.
1. Know the Kind You Need
Clear and concise explanations of the various types of child restraints (rear facing, forward facing, booster and seat belt) and how to use them are available at Parents Central from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Its car seat recommendations page is color coded and simple to understand. Also look there for a useful downloadable brochure that even has a Vehicle Safety Features chart which gets super detailed about LATCH tether locations, types of air bags, and more for every vehicle model.
Or check our earlier story, What Car Seat When?
If you prefer a video explanation of the various car seat types, a great place to visit is AAA’s Car Seat Safety: A How-to Guide
2. Find One That’s Easy to Use
Securing a squirming toddler already has its challenges without the car seat functions complicating matters. “Ease of use” takes into account factors like clarity of labels and instructions as well simplicity in making necessary adjustments or completing installation. Consult NHTSA’s Ease of Use ratings for individual child seats.
3. Then, Install It Correctly
It’s worth repeating. Read the instructions thoroughly for your particular car seat before installing it in your vehicle. Additionally, visit the manufacturer’s website. Many now have detailed video demonstrations for each of their child restraint models. If you’re shopping for a new car, always take the car seat with you and make sure it fits well in the back seat.
Still not sure that you’ve done it right? Safecar.gov helps you find an inspection station near you by state or zip code. Stations will have a technician available to physically install your car seat correctly and teach you how to do it yourself. We visited one and made a video; watch it here.
4. Register and Watch for Recalls
It takes a little extra time, but make sure to register your new car seat with the manufacturer so you’ll receive vital safety updates or recall information. Parents Central has a “registration and recalls” page that makes it easy to go to your manufacturer’s registration page directly. Then, sign up to get automatic recall notices from NHTSA.
All the due diligence you’ll do to find the right car seat is worth it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that the use of child restraints in passenger vehicles reduces the risk of death in infants by 71 percent and in toddlers by 54 percent. Those are life-saving statistics parents can’t afford to ignore.
via Car Seats: An Online Tool Kit – JeanKnowsCars.com.
JeanKnowsCars is an awesome resource for all things car related!