Do You Know How to Use A Car Seat Properly?

 JD Power’s 2012 US Seat Quality and Satisfaction Survey: public is blind to car seat defects?

Most people wouldn’t be surprised to hear that automobile accidents represent the number one cause of death for children ages 1-12. Associated with the awareness of driving, in general, is an awareness of the importance of safety features in cars, such as the use of car seats for child passengers. However, knowing that car seats are an absolute necessity does not preclude the possibility of knowing how to make proper use of them. Knowledge about proper car seat usage – specifically, what constitutes a functional and/or “safe” car seat versus what constitutes a defective car seat – is not so widespread in the public’s mind. That’s according to the findings of J.D. Power and Associate’s “2012 Seat Quality and Satisfaction Study.” According to JD Power, the study involved over 70,000 new vehicle owners who were asked to evaluate how safe their vehicle seats and safety belts were based on whether the vehicle owners suffered any defective or malfunctioning equipment during the first 90 days of ownership.

J.D. Power says its 2012 U.S. Seat Quality and Satisfaction Study is based on responses from more than 74,700 new vehicle owners who were asked to rate the quality of their vehicle seats and seat belts based on whether or not they experienced defects/malfunctions or design problems during the first 90 days of ownership. The study found that the top two vendors, Avanzar Interior Technologies, Ltd. and SAT Auto Technologies, Ltd. were associated with 3.3 problems for every 100 vehicles. Problems that went undetected to most of the participants of the study were – unfortunately – also the most alarming with respect to safety, according to Brian Chase (an attorney at Bisnar Chase, LLP.)

Defects that went unnoticed by vehicle owners included “weak seat backs that easily collapse during minor collisions injuring front and/or rear occupants and faulty brackets that fail to keep seats mounted to the floor during a crash, enabling occupants to be flung around the interior compartment or forcibly ejected from the car.” (Businesswire.com, 2012)

In addition to the allegedly poor standards of the car seat industry, an additional factor obscuring drivers’ ability to distinguish the faulty from the functional (and safe) could be the complex and variable guidance offered from a mix of vendors, state governments, and the federal government. In many situations, even if driver’s suspect an issue, confirmation will only come if and when drivers proactively engage the product information that came with their car seat. It’s not safe to assume that most drivers known the ins and the outs of their product safety documentation, and in some situations such documentation may not be readily available to the driver (either by special proximity or by opportunity). The mix of low industry standards, complex documentation for a multitude of different car seat models/vendors, and prescriptions to “consult” said documentation for complete safety information from local and national authorities might be the perfect storm for the overall “alarming” blindness to proper car seat safety use.

Be as informed and proactive as possible about car seat safety use

Until safety standards are improved, we recommend at least consulting the basics:

  • For motorists in Pennsylvania, see PennDOTs “Traffic Safety Information: Child Passenger Safety” (http://www.justdrivepa.org/Traffic-Safety-Information-Center/Child-Passenger-Safety/)
  • If you have a smart phone with a bar code reader application, try taking a picture of your car seat to get the official product name/model, then simply search the web for all product information –  we recommend copying that documentation right over to your phone for easy reference.

Works Cited

Businesswire.com. (2012, September 26). Bisnar Chase: Recent J.D. Power Survey Reveals Lack of Public Awareness of Defective Car Seat Dangers; Low Safety Standards Linked to Catastrophic Injuries. Retrieved October 10, 2012, from Business Wire: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20120926006108/en/Bisnar-Chase-J.D.-Power-Survey-Reveals-Lack

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With more than 40 years of combined experience, the personal injury attorneys at Fellerman & Ciarimboli strive to provide the best service to clients in Philadelphia, Northeast Pennsylvania, and throughout the Keystone State.

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