Saturday, May 24

Flawed Consumer Report about Infant Car Seat

We are doing research for infant car seat.

"Honey, I found all the car seats in the market meet the federal safety standard. As long as we don't buy it from yardsale or uncredited store, that's ok."
"No, here is a report saying only 2 car seats pass the safety test."

Then I got forwared a news report from CNN (Jan 4, 2007):
Most rear-facing infant car-seats on the market failed crash tests using tougher standards than the government uses, Consumer Reports said Thursday.

The magazine crash-tested 12 infant-seat brands and found that 10 didn't provide adequate protection.

The car seats have already passed the federal government crash tests, which are conducted from the front at 30 miles per hour.

Consumer Reports, however, tested the seats with the same standards the government uses in testing vehicles - for front crashes at 35 miles per hour and for side crashes at 38 miles per hour.


That sounds so scary. If a car seat failed at crash of 35 miles(56 kilometers) per hour, it is useless, because the driving limit in local area is always 60 kilometers per hour. That means we can ONLY select from the two survivors?

When searching the two models, I found the report was highly mentioned in parents' reviews:"It is one of the only two pass THAT test..."

After research for 2 days, I found one website mentioning that report was recalled. Are you kidding me?

So I visit Consumer Reports' website and search for "infant car seat". The first result is:"Consumer Reports withdraws infant car seat report" of Jan 18, 2007, then "How our car seat tests went wrong" of April 2007, and "Car seats update" of Oct 2007. The last one announced that all the tested car seats passed the amended test, and the report is in link.

So, it is only a false alert. The Consumer Reports wanted to have side crashes at 38mph, but the lab engineers wer conducting crashes at 70mph (112 km/hour). There are very few chance that a car can be side-crashed at 112 km/hour, so the result is meaningless.

The problems are: Why didn't I check the report from the original website? Why do I trust CNN report that much? Why is the flawed report highly cited?

First of all, always find the original source, original text, before making judgment.
Second, CNN should add update notice, or at least "related link", to published report, when things change. This rule should apply to ALL websites. Website is not like newspaper. The owner can always modify it.
Third, people tend to believe and forward unusual things, without doing enough research.