On January 4, 2007, Consumer Reports published a safety alert in the U.S. claiming that most infant car seats failed their new front- and side-crash evaluation tests. The report also claims that of 12 seats tested, only two performed well: the Baby Trend Flex-Loc and the Graco SnugRide with EPS (i.e., expanded polystyrene). Only six of the twelve infant car seat models chosen by Consumer Reports for this testing are officially certified for and marketed in Canada. They are: the Graco SnugRide; the Peg-Perego Primo Viaggio SIP; the Evenflo Embrace V; the Graco SafeSeat; the Safety 1st Designer 22; and the Combi Centre ST.
Transport Canada wants to reassure the Canadian travelling public that the Departmentís collision investigations and data analyses do not support the results obtained by Consumer Reports. When car seats are used correctly, they perform effectively in motor vehicle collisions and child occupants are afforded optimum protection.
The Department takes the safety of children travelling in vehicles very seriously and is continually working to improve crash protection for children through research, development and enforcement of safety regulations, participation in various national and international committees that work on policy development, and public awareness campaigns.
Transport Canada does not rate, endorse or approve childrenís restraint systems and booster cushions. Under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, Transport Canada develops and enforces the Motor Vehicle Restraint Systems and Booster Cushions Safety Regulations (RSSR). Certification of compliance to the RSSR is the responsibility of the manufacturer or importer ("self-certification"). Manufacturers or importers of children's restraint systems and booster cushions must affix the national safety mark (i.e., a prescribed label with the Canadian maple leaf) to their products to certify they meet all applicable Canadian requirements in effect on the date of manufacture. Transport Canada monitors compliance with the RSSR by providing technical advice to manufacturers, conducting audits of manufacturers' certification documentation, conducting compliance testing, investigating compliance test failures and other non-compliance conditions, and investigating public complaints alleging safety-related defects.
Transport Canada would like to reassure the Canadian travelling public that the Departmentís selective compliance testing program has not identified any safety issues with the above referenced Canadian products. Should any compliance or other safety-related issues be identified, Transport Canada would conduct a proactive investigation with the manufacturer or importer to resolve the issues. At this time, Transport Canada has no evidence to suggest a safety issue exists.
The Department would also like to make it clear that the testing conducted on behalf of Consumer Reports is not a regulatory requirement in any jurisdiction worldwide. The frontal impact testing as conducted on behalf of Consumer Reports would be deemed to be an extremely rare event. The Canadian regulatory frontal impact test requirement is already representative of a crash scenario that is more severe than 98 per cent of the real-world frontal crashes. The side impact test results as represented by Consumer Reports are not supported by Canadian on-road experience and collision data. Transport Canada is conducting car-to-car side impact testing and is working with international working groups to develop a relevant side impact sled test protocol as well as advanced side impact crash test child dummies. Further, Transport Canada is monitoring child injuries caused by side impacts through its own crash investigation program and through collaborative research programs involving a number of research groups in Canada, the U.S. and internationally.
Throughout Canada, the provincial and territorial legislations for mandatory use of infant and child restraint systems require that products be certified to the applicable Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS). Therefore, it is not advisable to purchase a restraint system in the U.S., Europe or elsewhere and use it in Canada because it does not meet the applicable CMVSS requirements and it cannot be used legally in any province or territory.
Parents and caregivers should continue to use with confidence the available restraint systems appropriate to the childrenís weight and height ranges recommended by the car seat manufacturer and ensure that the seats are correctly installed.