Ease-of-use ratings for child safety seats

The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced its initial set of ratings for child safety seats based on their ease of use.

Under NHTSA's new rating system, child safety seats -- including booster seats -- are given an overall ease-of-use rating at the "A," "B" or "C" level. Letter grades are also used to rate seats in each of five categories:

  • Whether the seat is pre-assembled or requires assembly after purchase
  • Clarity of labeling attached to the seat
  • Clarity of written instructions on 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

"The new rating system is not only helpful to consumers, but also provides a strong market incentive to child seat manufacturers to make further improvements to their products," said NHTSA Administrator Jeffrey W. Runge, M.D. "Overall, the ratings are positive, but there is room for improvement. Ultimately, we hope all seats will achieve an 'A' rating."

To date, 68 seats have been rated by NHTSA, representing about 95 percent of the seats available to consumers. Convertible seats were rated in both the rear-facing and forward-facing mode, and combination seats were rated in both the forward-facing and booster modes. Thirty-nine overall "A" ratings were given and 68 overall "B" ratings were given. While no seat received an overall "C" rating, several received a "C" rating in one or more individual rating categories.

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