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Do parants need a Euro-NCAP style safety rating for child seats?

Tristan Honeywill

Virtually every product available to buy online these days now has a star rating. We all write reviews, provide feedback on the seller and pick a star rating. The problem is that everybody’s judging on different criteria and some opinions just aren’t that helpful.

It’s particularly true for child-seats. What parents really need is a product that is easy to install and use correctly and which offers the best possible safety in the event of an accident. Apart from price, the rest is a matter of taste. A review that gives five stars because of the colour or the delivery time is not so helpful.

That’s why last Friday I went to see the people at the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL). This group of scientists and safety experts advises governments and companies on everything from motorway design to crash protection for Formula One drivers.

A couple of years ago TRL developed an independent ratings scheme for child seats. With all seats passing the same legal tests, they wanted to come up with an easy way for parents to tell the good from the bad. The result is a scheme that would do for child seats what Euro NCAP does for cars.

The UK government invested a lot of money in developing the scheme. It uses the latest dummies to measure everything, including the neck strain injuries ignored in the legal assessment. It also rates how easy the seat is to fit and use.

However, when the economy went into recession, funding for the scheme was withdrawn.

I’m hoping to be able to raise enough money to get it restarted. The big question is whether it’s worth the risk. It wouldn’t be right to do this for profit, but we need to cover the costs somehow. My gut feeling is that the best place to start is with the carry-cot seats for babies. I have a feeling many more get sold just because they clip onto the pushchair, not the car’s ISOFIX mounts.

The big question is whether it’s worth giving this a try. What do you think?

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