The NHTSA has announced that it will begin using a new ratings system for child seats that communicates to parents how easy they are to use. (All NHTSA-rated child seats are considered safe.) The four ease-of-use criteria that will be considered are:
  • Vehicle installation features
  • Securing the child
  • Evaluation of seat instructions
  • Evaluation of seat labels
Ratings of one to five stars will be given, kind of like the organization's vehicle crash tests, with the hope that it's easier for parents to choose the best possible seat.

It's good to see that ease of use will be rated, because the simpler it is to transfer a seat from car to car, the more likely a parent is to do so. After all, if a seat is a "pain to install," as IIHS president Adrian Lund bluntly puts it, a parent might be less likely to bother moving it. Of course, your child's safety should trump all other factors, regardless of how annoying it might be to move his or her car seat. Better to swear under your breath during the install than to regret not having done it later. These new ratings sound like a good, common-sense move.

[Source: AP, NHTSA]

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