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They are meant to keep our kids safe, but a new study into infant and child booster seats for vehicles has revealed that half of the products don’t even fit with seat belts.

Details of the sobering Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study are revealed on the website. “A half dozen popular booster seats proved so unsafe in testing that the IIHS specifically says to avoid them all together,” the article states.

Of 83 seats tested, 41 received a "check fit" rating, meaning that parents should check the fit of the belt every time a child uses it to ensure the belt is lying flat across a child’s upper thighs and the shoulder belt crosses the middle of the shoulder.

Alarmingly, four booster seats made by Evenflo and two of Costco’s Safety 1st seats were rated so poorly the IIHS recommended consumers do not use them. These were the Evenflo Chase, Express, Sightseer, Generations 65 models and Safety 1st’s All-in-One and Omega Elite.

As an experienced Virginia, VA personal injury attorney with two child seats, I find the results of this study disturbing. In March 2011, my colleagues and I called attention to a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in which the organizations called for longer use of rear-facing infant car safety seats and wider use of booster seats for children between the ages of 2 and 13 years. Yet, if there are problems with as many as half of the seats, they may not be the failsafe devices these organizations believe them to be.

The extent of the problem is revealed by the fact that in 2005, 236 children died and about 33,000 suffered personal injuries while they were strapped into their child car safety seats in crashes involving cars or trucks.

Tragically, in some cases, car seats for children have been so badly designed they have exacerbated injuries caused in car crashes. One example is a Cosco Touriva child car seat. An Oregon nurse tried to figure out what caused an 18-month-old child’s skull to fracture in a low speed crash involving the Cosco Touriva car seat.

The nurse contacted Cosco and warned the company about the potential dangers of a child’s head being hurt by hitting the edge of a hard, small indentation on the plastic the surrounded the child’s head area. Later, a Texas family also figured out that the indentation also caused serious injury after their daughter suffered brain damage in a crash.

It took personal injury litigation for the company’s engineers to label the indentation a “child safety concern,” according to an article in the Chicago Tribune.

Parents often have to contact lawyers before a company takes action to recall or repair an unsafe product. Sadly, by that time, the damage has often been done.


About the Editors: The Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, which has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.

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