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Current Child Car Seat Protection Not Enough, Experts Say

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"The best seat is the one the fits your child, fits your vehicle, and fits the needs of your family," she tells WebMD.

But the adoption of a good rating system is possible, Greenberg says. "It is safe to say that most car seats fit most cars," she tells WebMD. During her testimony, Greenberg also noted that three safety seats failed a 1995 Consumer Reports crash test, which was designed to approximate the NHTSA's existing standards. It is important to be able to distinguish between these products, she tells WebMD. A rating system, she says, would also force manufacturers to produce better products. But there is one critical caveat: The NHTSA must also upgrade its testing procedures "or run the risk of misleading the public," she says, while noting that the NHTSA currently does not test seats for the upper limits of the child's weight and vehicle speed displayed on the labels.

"We believe that the biggest issue is nonuse," says Robert Waller, CAE, executive vice president of the Juvenile Products Manufacturing Association (JPMA), the association representing makers of car seats. JPMA is opposed to any regulations that would limit manufacturers' ability to design, he says. The current compliance standards are excellent, he says, and he also points out that the majority of experts consider most, if not all, of today's car seats to be extremely safe. However, "we would look at a rating system if it was appropriately designed," he tells WebMD.

That's good, because a rating system might be on the horizon, despite any concern that this rating system might further confuse consumers by leading them to believe that one product is better than another without accounting for their needs.

Vital Information:

  • Safety experts warned government officials that more needs to be done to protect infants and toddlers while they ride in cars.
  • Most safety seats work, but few parents know how to use them properly.
  • Experts disagree if a rating system would be helpful, but it's likely one may be coming in the future.

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