Proper use of a car seat is a vital and effective way to protect kids while driving. The lobbying and trade group for the Baby Industrial Complex, the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, says that car seat safety tests are "more severe than 98 percent of real-life frontal accidents in the U.S." Which, judging by their decade-long opposition to any tightening of testing or recall standards, is plenty safe enough.
So what does the JPMA do when a reporter looks into those other two percent of situations, or starts combing through court documents for those cases where kids have been killed or injured by car seat designs and defects that manufacturers have known about but didn't change? They spin and CYA to their constituents. This is the intro to an email forwarded to me by an executive at a JPMA member company:
We wanted to make you aware of a recent story published in the Sunday edition of the Chicago Tribune focusing on the child restraint system industry. Unfortunately, the article does not highlight all the hard work our car seat members and industry does towards the safety of this great product.The Tribune article focuses on several accidents involving an extraneous plastic notch on certain models of Dorel/Cosco/Eddie Bauer car seats. Seat models that didn't use the notch still had it because Dorel didn't want to take a potential $4 million hit to sales that would result from closing the production line for eight weeks in order to update the plastic molds.
You can read the full story at:
JPMA tried diligently to provide the Tribune with scientific research and data in the support of the safety of child restraints, including letters to the reporters and editor in chief. JPMA has prepared the following statement in response to the article.
JPMA Supports Safety of Child Restraint Systems Despite Recent Selective Reporting...
To Dorel's credit, they were the only manufacturer who agreed to participate in the article. The MBA in me can totally see the perspective they present--as well as the calculations that were revealed in internal documents. That doesn't mean they're right, just that I can see how they get to their position.
But the JPMA always seems to respond to criticism or specific data by casting aspersions and getting all defensive, vague, and big picture. When considered alongside the industry's relentless efforts to thwart any meaningful updates in safety standards or anything but voluntary self-regulation, it really damages their credibility with me as a thinking parent. I don't want to have to be suspicious and cynical and parse the official statements of the companies I'm required to do business with as a parent--especially when I rely on them to keep my kid safe.
HIDDEN HAZARDS: KIDS AT RISK -- When car-seat safety, commerce collide [chicagotribune via jpma]
JPMA Supports Safety of Child Restraint Systems Despite Recent Selective Reporting [jpma.org]
image: 12mo CRABI crash test dummy [nhtsa.dot.gov]