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January 19, 2007

Consumer Reports retracts car seat article

Carseat_2 Consumer Reports on Thursday retracted a negative report on infant car seats that left many parents worried about their babies' safety -- an embarrassing revelation for the venerable magazine.

Consumer Reports said it was withdrawing the report, issued Jan. 4, because some of its test crashes were conducted at speeds higher than it had claimed.

The original report said most of the seats tested "failed disastrously" in crashes at speeds as low as 35 m.p.h. In one test, it said, a dummy child was hurled 30 feet.

But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said some of the crash tests were conducted under conditions that would represent being struck at more than 70 m.p.h.

"Consumer Reports was right to withdraw its infant car seat test report, and I appreciate that they have taken this corrective action," said NHTSA administrator Nicole Nason. "I was troubled by the report because it frightened parents and could have discouraged them from using car seats."

In an interview, Nason said more than 100 worried parents had called the agency's hotline on the evening the original report was released.

Phil Haseltine, executive director of the National Safety Council's Air Bag & Seat Belt Safety Campaign, said the report had raised doubts among many parents about their car seats despite the "very rigorous standard at NHTSA."

Consumer Reports said it would review its study, retest the car seats and publish a new article as soon as possible.

Assocated Press 2/19/2007

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