Infant seat safe for the front seat?
March 3, 1999
DETROIT (CNN) -- A Colorado company showed off videotape Wednesday of an infant seat it claims is safe enough to put in the front seat of a car -- even in a car equipped with airbags.
Xportation Safety Concepts Inc. was one of many companies displaying new wares at the Society of Automotive Engineers convention this week in Detroit.
The Airbag Safe Infant Seat (ASIS) has a shield attached to the front of the seat that absorbs the impact when an airbag is deployed.
"The seat is strapped into the car seat; the frame goes down and transfers the energy away from the child," Patricia Goor of Xportation Safety Concepts interpreted the videotaped crash tests. She also said the child safety seat has undergone at least 20 simulated crashes with good results.
The version shown at the gathering was a prototype made of aluminum. The consumer version would be made of heavy plastic at a cost of about $100.
Before it merged with Daimler-Benz, Chrysler participated in the early development of the seat. But the automaker backed off when it decided the seat sent the wrong message about child safety.
DaimlerChrysler executive Sue Ciske explained that the new seat goes against all conventional safety wisdom and could confuse parents.
"We know children are 30 percent safer being in the back. We also know there is a lot of technology we're looking at in advanced airbags where we would try to suppress the airbag when a child seat is present. So I think that is a little bit contrary and a mixed message to parents," said Ciske.
But Goor said a study performed for her company found that putting a child in the back seat can threaten safety.
"The final results were that a child alone, with one adult in the car, in the back seat, 30 percent of accidents the parent felt were caused because of the distraction of the child," Goor said.
Xportation Safety Concepts wants to market the seat before the year is out, but first it will have to win government approval. And at the moment, the government is not anxious to see the seat go into production.
"We really don't recommend children being in the front seat in front of an airbag," said Ricardo Martinez, an administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
In fact, last Saturday, President Clinton announced new standards for safer child seats and anchoring systems -- all intended for the back seats of vehicles.
Correspondent Ed Garsten contributed to this report.
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