Car seat ratings program educates parents and caregivers about child safety car seat features and to assist them in finding the appropriate child safety car seat for their needs.
Now entering its fifth year, NHTSA's Ease of Use Ratings program strives to prompt child restraint system (CRS) manufacturers to improve their products and make them easier for consumers to use. Fight back today! Contact us for a free legal consultation about your car seat lawsuit.
The NHTSA does not provide child car seat safety ratings. Proper installation and ease of use may contribute to child car seat safety ratings but currently there is no source that actually provides child car seat safety ratings. The Ease of Use rating does not compare the performance of different child restraints in the event of a crash. However, a child restraint is most effective if correctly installed in a vehicle and if the child is correctly secured in the restraint. A child restraint that is easier to use should have a lower misuse rate which may be indirectly related to safety.
Under the new rating system, child restraints are given an overall ease-of-use rating at the A, B, or C levels. The overall rating is determined from the letter grades the child restraint receives in each of five categories:
- Is the car seat pre-assembled or does it require assembly after purchase?
- What is the clarity of the labeling attached to the restraint?
- What is the clarity of the written instructions on the restraint’s proper use?
- Is it easy to secure a child correctly in the restraint?
- Does the seat have features that make it easier to install in a vehicle?
The majority of models rated for the first time during this testing season were awarded “A” ratings which proves that manufacturers are being particularly mindful of ease of use criteria as they are introducing new systems as well as continuing to improve upon previous designs.
Among the 2006 car seat findings:
- There were 99 different child restraint systems selected from 14 different manufacturers. Including the multiple modes from convertible and combination seats, there were 160 total ratings. This is a slight increase from 2005, where 92 child restraint systems were selected with a total of 144 ratings.
- In order for a car seat to qualify as an overall A, it must receive an A-rating in every possible mode. Out of the 99 child restraint systems rated in 2006, 85 received an A for all of their modes, 9 received a B for all of their modes, and 5 had mixed scores of A and B among their different modes. The percentage of overall A ratings awarded increased almost 5 percent from 2005.
- As in 2005, there were no child restraints that received an overall C rating. There were still several C scores within the categories, but the percentage of C scores was nearly the same as in 2005.
- Three seats that were rated in previous years improved their overall scores from a B to an A. These car seats were the Triple Play Sit ‘N Stroll (formerly manufactured by Safeline), Evenflo Big Kid (HB), and Evenflo Discovery.
- A number of redesigned seats that were re-rated maintained their A ratings. In most cases, improvements were seen within categories that had formerly been assigned B or C ratings. These seats were the Cosco Alpha Omega 5pt, Evenflo Big Kid (No Back), Evenflo Embrace, Evenflo Discovery, Graco Comfort Sport, and Safety 1st Surveyor.
The best child safety seat is the one that fits your child properly, is easy to use, and fits in your vehicle correctly. The best way to ensure a proper fit in your vehicle is to try installing the child seat before purchasing.