News

Consider Children in Autonomous Vehicles

This guest article for Safe Ride News was contributed by Lorrie Walker, Training and Technical Advisor of Safe Kids Worldwide.

Safe Kids Worldwide convened a Blue Ribbon Panel that met in April 2018 to highlight the need to address the safety of child occupants in autonomous vehicles (AVs).  For this discussion, the panel defined “child” as one who is under age 13. Read More from “Consider Children in Autonomous Vehicles”

AAP Issues a Revision of CPS Policy Statement

Slight changes continue most aspects of familiar CR selection guidelines, but no longer specifies RF goal of age 2

In August, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a revised version of its policy statement titled “Child Passenger Safety.” The changes primarily affect the wording of recommendations for how long a child should ride rear facing.  While the former version, issued in 2011, indicated that a child should stay rear facing until at least age 2 or older, the revised policy simply recommends that children stay rear facing as long as possible, until the height or weight limit of their RF CR is met (without making age 2 the rear-facing goal).

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Ask an Engineer: How Do Load Legs Improve CR Performance?

This guest article continues SRN’s “Ask an Engineer” series with Dave Sander, CPST-I and engineer (formerly with Evenflo). This series gives an insider view of how CR engineers develop and design CRs, as well as new insights into CR functionality.

Load legs (aka stability legs, foot props) are not a new invention. They’ve been a common feature of CRs for many years in other parts of the world, especially Europe.  But in the U.S., load legs continue to be a bit of a novelty and are found only on a handful of (mostly high-end) RF-only CRs.  The feature employs an adjustable metal bar that extends vertically from the CR base to the floor of a vehicle to help manage crash force (see photo, left).

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Ask an Engineer: Can CRs Be Made in a Variety of Colors?

Sure! You can have any color car seat you want, as long as it’s black!

This guest article continues SRN’s “Ask an Engineer” series with Dave Sander, CPST-I and engineer (formerly with Evenflo). This series gives an insider view of how CR engineers develop and design CRs, as well as new insights into CR functionality.

Boosters in bright colors have been on the market for a while, but have you ever wondered why CRs with harnesses don’t come in a variety of colors? I’m talking about the plastic shells, not the pads. As you might have noticed, that plastic is nearly always black, white, or a shade of gray, sort of like what Henry Ford famously said about his Model Ts, paraphrased above.  And there’s a reason for that!

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Ask an Engineer: Are Differences Among Webbing Types Important?

The following guest article was inspired by an enlightening conversation between SRN editor Denise Donaldson and Dave Sander, CPST-I and engineer (formerly with Evenflo, but employed elsewhere at the time this article was written).

Have you ever given close attention to the webbing used for car seat harnesses, LATCH straps, or vehicle seat belts? If so, you may have noticed that some are wider or feel thicker, smoother, or rougher than others. You may have also noticed that some have stripes (actually called panels), and that those panels vary in appearance and number.

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Updated Study on RF vs. FF Effectiveness

Published: SRN November/December, 2017. Updates will be posted here as they become available.

Update: August 31, 2018. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has revised their policy on child passenger safety.

As anticipated, the journal Injury Prevention in November published a new study by University of Virginia and other researchers titled “Rear-facing versus forward-facing child restraints: an updated assessment.”  This reexamination of field data was spurred by recent concerns about the accuracy of an earlier study by Henary, et al. (See SRN’s July/August and Sept/Oct 2017 issues.) That 2007 study strongly favored the safety benefits of riding rear facing (and supported subsequent policy updates by the AAP and NHTSA). The new study could not confirm the earlier study’s findings, nor did it result in new, statistically significant outcomes.
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Car Seat Orientation and Safety

Update on Latest Developments As of mid-November 2017

Articles in the last issue of SRN (July/August 2017) covered the major CPS news story that a key, real-life study on the benefits of riding rear facing up to age 2 had been discredited and the status of updated research that will potentially replace it.   Since the journal Injury Prevention issued an Expression of Concern about the 2007 Henary, et al, study—essentially voiding its validity—the CPS community has eagerly awaited a valid study that will replace it in order to guide future policy.

At press time, at least two studies have been completed to reanalyze this data. Neither, however, has completed the peer-review and publication process that is necessary before any scientific research can be relied upon.  Therefore, this is an ongoing and evolving situation; this article aims to summarize new developments since the last SRN issue went to press in late August.

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Safe Kids Finds Tether Usage Still Low

A recent study found only 36% of FF CRs are tethered—the same low rate as in 2012.

A new study from Safe Kids Buckle Up (SKBU), Car Seat Tethers:  Essential for Safety But Consistently Overlooked, revisits the topic of tether use and misuse, comparing information from recent checkup forms to similar studies from past years.  The results show that not only does tether use continue to be very low but also shows no improvement over the past several years.  Also, among tethers that are used, misuse rates continue to be high.

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Re-evaluating Car Seat Orientation and Safety

Published: SRN July/August, 2017. Updates will be posted here as they become available.

Update: August 31, 2018. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has revised their policy on child passenger safety.
Update December 2017:
Updated Study on RF vs. FF Effectiveness.”
Update mid-November 2017:Car Sear Orientation and Safety.”
Update September 2017:NHTSA Policy Reaffirmation.”

Over the past year, certain developments have caused some CPS advocates to be concerned and/or confused about the relative safety of children riding rear facing versus forward facing.  Testimony in a recent lawsuit that questioned the benefits of extended RF, changes to RF and FF requirements in CR instructions, and updated state laws have all contributed to the confusion.  Most recently, an expression of concern published by Injury Prevention and an online statement posted by the CR manufacturer Dorel have understandably raised many questions among CPSTs.  The following describes these developments and gives additional context to help CPSTs make sense of recent news.

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Injury Prevention’s “Expression of Concern”

The following is reprinted from Injury Prevention online, July 3, 2017

“The manuscript ‘Car safety seats for children: rear facing for best protection’ was published in Injury Prevention in 2007, after peer review. The paper used U.S. data from the National Automotive Sampling System Crashworthiness Data System to conclude that children 0–23 months were less likely to be severely injured when using a rear-facing car seat than a front-facing car seat. This result, along with similar data from Swedish experience and biomechanical studies, has been used as the basis for public education and policy recommendations that favor a rear-facing position for children under age two in car seats.

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