WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that child safety restraint systems (CSRSs) have become easier to use.
The administration surveyed 92 models from 14 different manufacturers for the 2005 version of the Ease-of-Use Ratings Program, which began in 2003. NHTSA reported that many of the products had clearer labels and instructions. Three seats that were tested in 2004 improved their overall rating from “B” to “A.”
For a unit to qualify as an overall “A,” it must receive an “A” rating in each of its possible modes of use (such as forward facing or rear facing).
Out of the 92 CSRSs rated, 74 received an “A” overall, 13 received a “B” overall and five had mixed scores of either “A”s or “B”s for their different modes.
None of the units received an overall “C,” which is the lowest score in the rating system. Though there were several “C”s within the categories, NHSTA reported that there was a much smaller percentage of “C”s in 2005 than in 2004.
In addition to the overall score, NHTSA uses the letter grading system to denote how well each CSRS performs in five individual categories:
Whether the seat is pre-assembled or requires assembly after purchase.
Clarity of the labeling attached to the seat.
Clarity of written instructions regarding the seat’s proper use.
Ease of securing a child in the seat.
Whether the seat has features that make it easier to install in a vehicle.
NHTSA Administrator Jeffrey Runge said the Ease-of-Use Ratings Program provides valuable information for choosing a CSRS and serves as “a powerful incentive to manufacturers to produce safe and effective seats that are simple to use.”
To view the 2005 ratings on CSRSs, go to www.nhtsa.dot.gov/CPS/CSSRating/Index.cfm.