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Child Car Seats from Top Brands Break in Consumer Reports Tests

A recent study of toddler booster car seats showed serious concerns when it comes to the safety and performance of several top brand models. These booster seats are often referred to as harness-to-booster seats, and four specific brands, including the Britax Frontier, the ClickTight, the Britax Pioneer, the Cosco Finale, and the Harmony Defender 360, all raised significant safety concerns when parts of each seat broke during testing.

The study was published by Consumer Reports and utilized the latest child car-seat testing protocol. These tests simulate what real crash conditions would do to different car seat or booster seat models. The goal of this protocol was to identify the models that provided an extra margin of safety above what is being provided by other models on the market that meet the basic federal safety standards set by the government for all child restraints.

The testing is extensive and includes infant models, as well as convertible, all-in-one and booster seats. The final category that is tested is usually the “last step” in the child restraint process, which is the toddler booster seat. A toddler booster seat is normally used for children who have surpassed either the height or weight limits of their rear-facing seat until the child is big enough to safely use the vehicle safety belt alone.

These seats are evaluated on different criteria for their crash protection, and the rankings including a basic, better or best rating. While the “basic” rating does show that the seat meets federal safety standards, it is not an ideal rating for a company that is looking to sell the booster seat based on its safety features. All four of the seats mentioned in the study received a “basic” score when it came to crash protection.

The Consumer Reports test showed that these four models broke at the load-bearing component located at the rear of the booster seat. These tests included dummies who weighed near the guideline limits for the harness system. What these breaks mean is the child’s head could come into direct contact with a part of the car’s interior during a crash. In a worst-case scenario, the child could be ejected from the car seat.

The tests also simulated car accidents with an average six-year-old child, as well as a heavier six-year-old child or even a ten-year-old child through use of a crash-test dummy. In many of these tests, the booster seat’s harness systems were damaged, and in one test, the structure of the seat that supported the top tether was also damaged.

For the Britax Frontier ClickTight seat, the structural damage from the test was so extensive that the seat’s harness pulled through the seat completely. In two of the tests involving the Britax Pioneer seat, using a 62-pound dummy, the structure of the seat that supported the headrest and harness broke completely.

At the law firm of Michael T. Gibson, P.A. we understand that your children are your most precious cargo and we want to make sure they travel safely. If you have been involved in a car accident and your child suffered a catastrophic injury or fatal injury as a result, you need to contact an experienced Orlando car accident lawyer immediately. These injuries and fatalities can be the result of multiple factors, including the negligence of another driver or a manufacturer defect, such as a failed seatbelt, airbag or poorly designed car seat. At our firm, we have the resources to fight the car manufacturers for failing to provide adequate protection for children and the big insurance companies. Feel free to fill out our quick contact form on our website to discuss your legal options in more detail.

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