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Mix-up botched infant seat report

March 21, 2007|From the Associated Press

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Consultants hired by Consumer Reports to investigate how it botched a story about infant car seats concluded Tuesday that a major misunderstanding between the magazine and the lab that conducted the test resulted in the error.

The findings of the test -- that most seats "failed disastrously" -- were withdrawn two weeks after their Jan. 4 publication when the magazine learned its side-impact tests had simulated speeds twice as fast as it reported. The error prompted criticism from the manufacturers involved and confusion among readers, especially parents of young children.

The results of the magazine's investigation were released Tuesday and will be published in the May issue.

The report said Consumer Reports wanted to test the effect of a 38 mph side impact of a vehicle on children in car seats. When such a crash occurs, much of the momentum of the striking car is absorbed by the struck car, with the struck car then moving away at about half the impact speed.

The lab, however, tested the car seats as if they moved off at 38 mph, which would have been the result of a much more violent crash, the probe concluded.

Consumer Reports then presented the findings and said only two of 12 seats tested were worth buying.

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