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Car Seat Safety Ratings - The Mysteries Surrounding Car Seat Safety Ratings

nhtsa test seats parents

Car seats play an extremely important role in a child’s life; they are expected to withstand huge forces and restrain a child in the event of a crash. Many parents and caregivers are highly concerned with buying a car seat that has great safety ratings. Almost any piece of information can be found on the internet, so it should be easy to look up the safety ratings of any given car seat—right?

Actually, it’s not quite that easy. Each and every car seat that is sold in the United States undergoes extensive safety testing at the manufacturer level. However, most car seat manufacturers do not release their test data to the public.

Because the individual crash tests are not released to the public, the next best source of safety ratings is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Every year, the NHTSA releases the results of their compliance testing. The test results summary shows the conditions of the test, and whether the car seat passed or failed. The NHTSA website (nhtsa.gov) also gives ease-of-use ratings and tips for selecting the best car seat to meet an individual’s needs.

Consumer Reports (consumerreports.org) is a subscription-based website that reviews many different products, including car seats. They do test car seats and publish their safety ratings, but the Consumer Report ratings are not official ratings or standards. In fact, they have been criticized because their safety tests are not always conducted appropriately, which may skew the results.

Although there is not one definitive source for car seat safety ratings, parents and caregivers can still trust the fact that any car seat they buy will be safe. All car seats in the U.S. are manufactured to meet the same safety guidelines, and all undergo rigorous testing to ensure that they will meet the standards set by the NHTSA.

Some parents and caregivers feel uncomfortable with being left in the dark about their car seat’s safety rating. If they feel very strongly that they want to know the safety ratings of their specific car seat, they can always call the manufacturer and request the ratings from them. Some manufacturers will provide this information upon request, while others will not. Also, a concerned car seat buyer may choose to buy from a manufacturer that publishes their car seat crash test data, such as Recaro.

So while car seat safety ratings are not available for the public to review, concerned parents and caregivers need not worry. All U.S. car seats are tested to the same standards and all must meet minimum safety requirements. Those who still wish to acquire specific car seat safety ratings can request the information from the manufacturer or buy from a company that publishes their car seat safety ratings.





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