If you were born before the 1960s, you likely traveled in the family car without a car seat or safety belt to secure you in the event of an accident.
On the off chance you were placed in a car seat, it was more like a primitive high chair designed to give your parents a better view you and you a better view of the road.
Not exactly designed for safety.
In the 1970s, the federal government, recognizing both the need for restraints and for safety standards, began to issue regulations. It took almost 15 years (1985) before all 50 states required car seats.
And even then, only 80% of parents with small children used them.
Given all the focus on child safety, most parents likely assume that the car seats of the 21st century are reliable and safe.
Sadly – that is not the case.
A recent investigation by ProPublica has revealed that one of the most popular booster seats (Big Kid Booster) made by EvenFlo, has been "marketed the seat as "side impact tested" when the company's own tests showed a child using it could be paralyzed or killed in such a crash."
The most disturbing part of the story?
According to internal documents secured by ProPublica, EvenFlo knew they were selling an unsafe product and choose to sell it anyway.
And there's more, according to investigators:
Evenflo was able to make up its own side-impact safety tests for boosters and assert that they passed them, because NHTSA never enacted side-impact test standards for children's car seats and boosters despite a 2000 law directing it to do so. The bar was so low on Evenflo's test, records show, that the only way its booster could fail was if the child-sized dummy was thrown onto the floor during a simulated side-impact crash or the booster broke into pieces.
Congress is now getting in on the act and calling on the National Highway Safety Administration to greatly strengthen the standards for these seats.
Again, according to ProPublica:
This month, NHTSA (finally) proposed a new rule that would bar manufacturers from marketing booster seats to children weighing less than 40 pounds, a change that members of Congress had sought in March. As ProPublica's investigation in February made clear, the agency for years has allowed manufacturers to label boosters as safe for children as light as 30 pounds even though the American Academy of Pediatrics has, for decades, said that those kids are safer in traditional car seats that use internal harnesses to hold their small bodies in place.
Hopefully this new rule will be officially enacted soon.
In the meantime, to help keep children safe on the road, here is the most recent guidance from the CDC:
- Use car seats, booster seats, and seat belts in the back seat—on every trip, no matter how short.
- Rear-facing car seat from birth up to age 2
Buckle children in a rear-facing seat until age 2 or when they reach the upper weight or height limit of that seat.
- Forward-facing car seat from age 2 up to at least age 5
When children outgrow their rear-facing seat, they should be buckled in a forward-facing car seat until at least age 5 or when they reach the upper weight or height limit of that seat.
- Booster seat from age 5 up until seat belt fits properly
Once children outgrow their forward-facing seat, they should be buckled in a booster seat until seat belts fit properly. The recommended height for proper seat belt fit is 57 inches tall.
- Seat belt once it fits properly without a booster seat
Children no longer need to use a booster seat once seat belts fit them properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs (not the stomach) and the shoulder belt lays across the chest (not the neck).
If you or a loved one are ever injured by a defective product in Connecticut, know that the Connecticut product liability attorneys at RisCassi & Davis have been assisting people like you who've been injured in these accidents for over 60 years. And we have received both state and national recognition for our work in this area. If you are ever injured in an accident of any kind and would like a free consultation with one of our Connecticut personal injury lawyers, please contact us. There is no obligation.