New Report Says Company Puts Profits Before Child Safety With Booster Seat Designed to Prevent Car Accident Injuries
Is your child’s booster seat actually capable of preventing injuries in the event of a car accident? According to a recent report from ProPublica, the Evenflo “Big Kid” booster seats may have a serious marketing defect that could result in child injuries and deaths in motor vehicle collisions. As the report explains, “internal video of side-impact tests shows that children could be injured or killed in Evenflo’s ‘Big Kid’ booster seats,” yet Evenflo “continued to market them as side-impact tested.” And one of the most troubling pieces of information is that the company may have known about the problem for nearly a decade.
As the report explains, an Evenflo safety engineer recommended that the company “stop selling booster seats for children who weigh less than 40 pounds,” suggesting that the seats could not prevent injuries as the marketing suggested. The engineer, Eric Dahle, made this recommendation back in February 2012. At that time, he “emailed high-ranking executives to tell them that children lighter than 40 pounds would be safer in car seats that use harnesses to hold their small bodies in place.” Dahle cited existing research, and also argued that making these changes would “match Canadian regulations and better align with recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics.”
Yet Evenflo—one of the largest makers of child safety seats—did not heed Dahle’s recommendation. Instead, internal records from the company show that a marketing executive was responsible for vetoing the engineer’s recommendation, and even wrote in an email, “why are we even talking about this?” That marketing executive also wrote emphatically, “I have looked at 40 lbs for the US numerous times and will not approve this.” Evenflo continued to sell the Big Kid booster seat and to market it for children who weighed under 40 pounds. Moreover, Evenflo marketed the booster seat as one that had been side-impact tested even though “its own tests showed a child seated in its booster could be in grave danger in such a crash.”
To be clear, then, there are two major problems associated with the marketing of the Big Kid booster seat. First, the company marketed the seat for kids weighing less than 40 pounds when research suggested that the seat was not safe for children of such weight. Second, the company marketed the booster seat as being side-impact tested even though crash tests performed by Evenflo suggested that the booster seat was not, in fact, safe for a side-impact collision. Side-impact crashes cause approximately 15% of child fatalities in car accidents. Therefore, if you currently own a Big Kid Evenflo booster, do not use it unless your child meets the correct weight and height requirements.
Safety Tips: Child Car Seats and Injury Prevention
The following information comes from HealthyChildren.org and is designed to help parents and guardians choose the right safety seat for a child passenger:
- Infants and toddlers should ride in rear-facing seats. Rear-facing car seats come in three varieties (rear-facing-only, convertible, and 3-in-1);
- Rear-facing-only seats should be used for infants weighing up to 22 or 35 pounds, depending upon the manufacturer’s instructions;
- Convertible seats should be used as rear-facing until the child reaches the weight and age requirements for forward-facing;
- Toddlers and preschoolers weighing between 40 and 90 pounds should be in forward-facing car seats;
- School-aged children should ride in a booster seat after they have outgrown the weight limits of a forward-facing car seat but are still under 4 feet 9 inches; and
- Booster seats come in two varieties: high-back and backless.
If your child sustained injuries while using an Evenflo booster seat, you should discuss your options with a product liability lawyer.