Video: Infant car seats fail safety tests

By Tom Costello Correspondent
NBC News
updated 1/18/2007 6:56:44 PM ET 2007-01-18T23:56:44

Editor's note: Consumer reports later retracted this report. You can read about that here.

When parents buy an infant seat for their car, most believe they are purchasing a product that will keep their child protected from harm in case of an accident.

Surprisingly — and disturbingly — many of these parents are wrong.

Consumer Reports tested 12 infant car seats. Nine performed poorly.

Among them:

  • The Evenflo Discovery, which flew off its base with the dummy still strapped inside.
  • The Eddie Bauer Comfort Seat, which technicians were unable to fit properly in any of five different cars.
  • The Graco SafeSeat and the Britax Companion, which jumped off the seat, then slammed back again.

"The data showed that adults in vehicles are better protected than infants riding in those some vehicles," says Don Mays with Consumer Reports.

Surprisingly, all of the infant seats tested had already passed federal tests.

But Consumer Reports has changed the ground rules: While the federal government requires a 30 mph frontal crash for car seats, Consumer Reports ran it at 35 mph and 38 mph for side-impact crashes, the same speeds used for new car tests.

Consumer Reports says it's time the government conducts its own side-impact crashes and wants a safety recall of the Eddie Bauer Comfort Seat and the Evenflo Discovery.

But the industry say there's no evidence higher-speed crash tests will result in safer child seats.

And Evenflo's CEO insists its seat held up well in more than 200 other tests.

"We steadfastly stand behind the safety of all of our car seats, including Discovery," says Rob Matteucci.

The maker of the Eddie Bauer model, Dorel Juvenile Group, tells NBC News it's now making a newly designed base for its car seats, and consumers are being offered that base, which meets or exceeds federal requirements.

Graco and Britax both says their seats undergo extensive testing and also meet or exceed government standards.

Two infant seats did get Consumer Reports' approval: The Graco SnugRide with EPS and the Baby Trend Flex-Loc.

"The child could be ejected if they're not properly secured in the seat," says child seat expert Emilie Crown.

More than 100 children are killed each year in accidents. Experts caution any seat is better than none.

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