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Consumer Reports recalls car seat study

Nonprofit group retracts study after government finds problem with the way tests were conducted.

By Christian Zappone, staff writer


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NEW YORK ( -- Consumer Reports, the consumer product testing magazine, announced Thursday that is withdrawing a recent report on rear-facing infant car seats after learning of a problem in the way some of the tests were conducted.

The magazine said it still stands behind its request for a recall of one of the seats, however, since that seat performed poorly in a test that is not now in question.

That report alleged that several infant car seats failed crash tests performed using tougher standards than those used by the federal government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The initial report was released in January 5 and was reported on CNNMoney that day. (Read the original story.)

Consumer Reports received information from NHTSA raising questions about the side impact test.

"Our initial review of the Consumer Reports testing procedures showed a significant error in the manner in which it conducted and reported on its side-impact tests," said NHTSA Administrator Nicole Nason in a statement posted on the agency's Web site.

"The organization's data show its side-impact tests were actually conducted under conditions that would represent being struck in excess of 70 mph, twice as fast as the group claimed," said Nason.

"When NHTSA tested the same child seats in conditions representing the 38.5 mph conditions claimed by Consumer Reports, the seats stayed in their bases as they should, instead of failing dramatically," she reported.

Consumer Reports will now conduct new side-impact tests, examine all aspects of the article and conduct an internal review, said spokesman Ken Weine.

The magazine also says it stands by its request for a recall of the Evenflo Discovery because it didn't meet federal frontal crash test standards and the Eddie Bauer Comfort because it couldn't be installed properly.

"Trust in Consumer Reports is built on communicating safety to the consumer," said Weine. "We're doing this as soon as we can."

Following the Consumer Reports story Evenflo retested its Discovery infant seat internally and through an independent laboratory, Evenflo CEO Rob Matteucci said in an e-mailed statement.

"In every one of these 17 tests - conducted in strict compliance with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration testing standards - the Discovery infant seat met or exceeded all NHTSA safety standards," Matteucci affirmed.

"We are absolutely confident in the safety of the Evenflo Discovery infant seat, and we are certain it meets or exceeds all federal government standards for safety," Matteucci said and pledged to work with Consumer Reports and with NHTSA on on the matter.

NHTSA is the federal organization in charge of testing vehicles and equipment used on the road.

In the original report Consumer Reports crash-tested 12 infant-seat brands, including models made by Evenflo, Graco and Baby Trend, and found that 10 didn't provide adequate protection.

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

Consumer Reports said it will publish a new report with "any necessary revisions" as soon as possible.

In the meantime, Consumer Reports urges motorists to remember any child seat is better than no child seat and to suspend judgment on the merits of individual brands until the new report is released.

Evenflo has set up a consumer hotline (800-233-5921) to answer questions about the safety of Discovery and other Evenflo products. It has set up a dedicated e-mail address:


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