Car Safety Seat Issue Gains Awareness

indexU.S. automakers have been accused of acting with criminal negligence by safety advocates because of their failure to address a safety issue in car seats that has been allowed to go on for years.

Concerns have been raised over car seats that malfunction and collapse backward when a vehicle is involved in a rear-end collision. The collapsing seat has been known to either cripple or kill drivers and passengers that are in the back seat. In some cases, the victims are children.

Executive director at the Center For Auto Safety in Washington, D.C., Clarence Ditlow, said that approximately 64 adults die or suffer serious injuries from the seat collapses every year, while approximately 50 child victims die each year due to the flaw.

The complaint regarding the safety concerns over the seats has been going on for decades, and yet automakers have done little to address those safety concerns.

In 1992, CBS’ Sunday evening news program, “60 Minutes” aired a report that brought the issue to wider public scrutiny.

In the broadcast segment, Paul Sheridan, who oversaw the minivan safety division at Chrysler said he was told to retrieve and destroy meeting minutes and had his safety team dismantled after the company claimed that their mission had been fulfilled – much to Sheridan’s astonishment.

Sheridan has alleged that both Chrysler with the aid of the NHTSA withheld videotaped crash test footage that clearly showed seats collapsing in the event of even a minor rear-end collision. It would not be until a case was brought forth in civil court that the tape would be made public.

When judging seat strength, the average lawn chair available at any retailer will pass safety standards while one of the faulty car seats will not.

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