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  1. #1
    CPS Technician crunchierthanthou's Avatar
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    NHTSA's Orbit conclusion

    NHTSA's letter to CU stating that they found no problems with the Orbit infant seat-

    On September 1, NHTSA conducted FMVSS No. 213 compliance tests on four Orbit Infant Car Seat and Base restraints at MGA. There were three installation methods used in these tests which differed from the CU tests conducted in August: a different harness slot was used (middle slot as compared to the top slot used by CU), the "StrongArm" tightening feature was engaged in three of the four tests (the StrongArm was not engaged for CU's tests), and no lap and shoulder belt was used. All four restraints passed the head injury criteria (Hl C), chest g, and excursion criteria requirements conlained in FMVSS No. 21 J and no separations were observed.

    On September 28, NHTSA conducted research tests on four additional Orbit Infant Car Seat and Base restraints at MGA. These tests replicated the CU test configurations and installation methods. Representatives from both Orbit and CU observed the research tests. All four restraints passed the head injury criteria (HIe), chest g, and excursion criteria requirements contained in FMVSS No. 213 and no separations were observed
    I saw this in a spilling the beans blog post.

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  4. #2
    CPS Fanatic vonfirmath's Avatar
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    Re: NHTSA's Orbit conclusion

    Yet another reason to ignore Consumer Reports. How sad. I grew up with that magazine.

    --Sarah & D.J. (3-20-04)
    DS (08/07) ~ 8 ~ 52 pound ~ Graco Highback Turbobooster -- 3rd Grade!
    DD (08/11) ~ 4 yr ~ 32 lb ~ Britax Roundabout 50, Maestro -- Pre-K!

  5. #3
    CPSDarren - Admin SafeDad's Avatar
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    Re: NHTSA's Orbit conclusion

    A copy of the letter is here-

    http://www.orbitbaby.com/support/Let...ct-19-2009.pdf

    The two most likely conclusions seem to be-

    1) CR messed up its crash testing yet again

    2) Crash testing is so variable from one test to the next, that all crash testing is flawed because it is not repeatable to the point where anything can be learned.

    Either way, I would still not put much trust in CR's child safety seat crash test ratings at this point, unless they make serious efforts to have independent, expert oversight and name the members on the oversight body.

  6. #4
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    Re: NHTSA's Orbit conclusion

    Orbit must feel vindicated.

    Shame on CR for once again flubbing this whole child safety thing.

    I truly wish that NHTSA would conduct transparent testing of all FMVSS approved restraints and release those results to the public. If they can do it with cars, they can do it with child seats.

  7. #5
    Carseat Crazy MamanMag's Avatar
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    Re: NHTSA's Orbit conclusion

    The saddest part in all of it is that CU won't change their report... They are sticking to the fact that, according to their tests, the Orbit infant car seat is unsafe while using the base... And they admit no having followed the manual !

    I met a representative of Orbit last week and she told me that CU even said that Orbit should test their seats while not following the manual... Does that make sense????? Why would they say something so ridiculous!!!! We all know that we have to follow the manual for any seat, they don't realize how pathetic they are and really, we cannot trust them with their car seats tests, they have no clue what they are doing!

    I just bought the Orbit toddler car seat and you can really tell how sturdy it is. This company is really doing a great job and they have great products! Their consumer service is great! It is really too bad that they have to suffer from CU's incompetence...

  8. #6
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    Re: NHTSA's Orbit conclusion

    Quote Originally Posted by MamanMag View Post
    The saddest part in all of it is that CU won't change their report... They are sticking to the fact that, according to their tests, the Orbit infant car seat is unsafe while using the base... And they admit no having followed the manual !

    I met a representative of Orbit last week and she told me that CU even said that Orbit should test their seats while not following the manual... Does that make sense????? Why would they say something so ridiculous!!!! We all know that we have to follow the manual for any seat, they don't realize how pathetic they are and really, we cannot trust them with their car seats tests, they have no clue what they are doing!

    I just bought the Orbit toddler car seat and you can really tell how sturdy it is. This company is really doing a great job and they have great products! Their consumer service is great! It is really too bad that they have to suffer from CU's incompetence...

    I disagree strongly here. Child seat manufacturers absolutely should test with misuse, (and we know for a fact that many do).

    Seats are frequently misused. Depending on the area, anywhere from 80-100% of child restraints are going to be used improperly.

    If a slight but very common error in use is going to ultimately kill the child in the seat, the company needs to realize it and respond to it before putting the product on the shelf.

    While I agree that Consumer Reports has shown its rear end with car seat reports, the concept as it stands is a very good one.

    Orbit, like Britax, does an excellent job of 'selling' its product. However, a good public appearance does not mean the seat is superior to other seats on the market

  9. #7
    Carseat Crazy MamanMag's Avatar
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    Re: NHTSA's Orbit conclusion

    I agree with you Maedze that lot of people misuse their product and do not install their car seats properly but if Orbit has to test their seats while not following procedures (even though they represent less than 1% of the market) then why shouldn't Graco do the same??? Or Evenflo? They have a much bigger market! Then how can a car seat be safe if we don't use it properly? To me it is very simple, if we don't install a car seat properly and don't use it properly then it cannot be safe, none of them! Not just Orbit. So then we don't even need a manual, why bother really...

    Just imagine a Graco Snugride or SafeSeat base not being tight at all, how will that perfom in the crash test?

    I'm just saying that Orbit has been badly accused of something that all car seat manufacturers could be accused of if we don't follow their manuals.

  10. #8
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    Re: NHTSA's Orbit conclusion

    Independent of consumer reports, child manufacturer restraints DO test for cases of misuse. I don't know about Orbit, but several major manufacturers run tests for misuse.

    This isn't a case of what is required by law, this is a case of what is decent and what any conscientious CRS manufacturer does.

  11. #9
    Admin - CPS Technician LISmama810's Avatar
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    Re: NHTSA's Orbit conclusion

    There are several lessons here.

    #1. Consumer Reports seems incapable of conducting reliable crash tests. If they want to test misuse (not their intent), great, but compare apples to apples.

    #2. The harder a seat is to use, the easier it is to misuse. The Orbit does come with very clear instructions, but it is VERY different to install than typical seats, and it's not intuitive at all. I can install most seats properly without reading the instructions (not that I do--I'm just saying), but the first time I did an Orbit, it took a long time to figure out. We already know that most parents don't bother with instructions, so...

    #3. Seats need to be harder to misuse, and Consumer Reports needs to stop with the car seats already.

    #4. I had another one, but I forgot.

  12. #10
    Carseat Crazy MamanMag's Avatar
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    Re: NHTSA's Orbit conclusion

    I've been learning so much since I'm part of this forum, thanks for informing us so well!!

    It is reassuring to know that some manufacturers do, I surely hope Graco does as so many of their seats are around.

    I really wonder though what do they test? There are so many ways of not using a seat properly, it is scary actually... So what misuse do they test?

    More should be done to educate new parents about car seat safety. A lot is done already, like you cannot check out of the hospital if your newborn is not in a car seat but then, parents are on their own and some really don't realize how risky it is not to use a car seat...

    It's going to take time but thanks to forums like this and thanks to you all committed technicians, it will get better!

  13. #11
    Forum Ambassador TechnoGranola's Avatar
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    Re: NHTSA's Orbit conclusion

    It is a good point though, that if manufacturers test for misuse, and the seat still passes, then it's not exactly misuse, is it? It may be different than the manufacturer intended, but if the seat passes all testing criteria, then it really becomes just as acceptable as their intended use that also passes.

    If all cases of misuse could be tested for (which isn't likely since even the techs here get surprised by the bizarre and creative misuse they see sometimes!) and pass then there wouldn't need to be a manual because all use whether it be "mis"use, would pass.

    And if misuse doesn't pass, what does a manufacturer do? Redesign the seat so that misuse passes (and as such is no longer misuse, but just a different way of use)? or do they put a warning in the manual saying, "if you do this your kid could die" which isn't helpful for those who don't read the manual which are also the ones with the highest rate of misuse specifically because they did NOT read the manual!

    Not really expecting any answers here, I am just thinking aloud and I am not disagreeing with testing for misuse, just thought it was a bit thought provoking for the evening for my brain that has been reduced to the size of a pea for the evening because of all the intense stuff I've been doing for work all day....must leave computer....brain.is.melting.....

    And I agree with everything LISmama810 said. Making a seat harder to misuse, eliminates the need for testing of misuse and warning in manuals and makes the seat easier to use. This philosophy is in fact what I use daily in my work. But, people's lives don't rely on my work.

  14. #12
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    Re: NHTSA's Orbit conclusion

    Quote Originally Posted by MamanMag View Post
    I've been learning so much since I'm part of this forum, thanks for informing us so well!!

    It is reassuring to know that some manufacturers do, I surely hope Graco does as so many of their seats are around.

    I really wonder though what do they test? There are so many ways of not using a seat properly, it is scary actually... So what misuse do they test?

    More should be done to educate new parents about car seat safety. A lot is done already, like you cannot check out of the hospital if your newborn is not in a car seat but then, parents are on their own and some really don't realize how risky it is not to use a car seat...

    It's going to take time but thanks to forums like this and thanks to you all committed technicians, it will get better!
    Well, we're trying

    SafeKids saw its funding seriously SLASHED in the last fiscal year. We're all volunteers, and we have to beg for sponsors just to put community events into place. Funding for grants for education programs has just disappeared. It's just not there anymore.

    If you feel strongly that 'more needs to be done', I encourage you to donate to your local SafeKids organization, to become a CPST, to write your representative.

    We cannot force parents to learn. Parents need to take responsibility to seek out the information.


    With regards to testing, it's done on the most common misuses, like damaged harness, too loose install, etc. Obviously, they cannot prevent every kind of failure. If the parent installs the seat by tying it to the seatbelt with a length of fishing wire, no amount of real-life testing is going to prevent tragedy.

  15. #13
    Carseat Crazy MamanMag's Avatar
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    Re: NHTSA's Orbit conclusion

    Quote Originally Posted by Maedze View Post
    If you feel strongly that 'more needs to be done', I encourage you to donate to your local SafeKids organization, to become a CPST, to write your representative.
    I'm going to find our local SafeKids Organization and help them the best I can! I am thinking of becoming a CPST. I'm in the process of learning more about it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maedze View Post
    We cannot force parents to learn. Parents need to take responsibility to seek out the information.
    I couldn't agree more! That's why I'm so happy to have found this forum, the resources are huge!!!


    Quote Originally Posted by Maedze View Post
    With regards to testing, it's done on the most common misuses, like damaged harness, too loose install, etc. Obviously, they cannot prevent every kind of failure. If the parent installs the seat by tying it to the seatbelt with a length of fishing wire, no amount of real-life testing is going to prevent tragedy.
    Really good to know, I know that all of them are trying their best to keep our little ones safe, it's just not easy sometimes...

  16. #14
    Carseat Crazy MamanMag's Avatar
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    Re: NHTSA's Orbit conclusion

    Quote Originally Posted by LISmama810 View Post
    There are several lessons here.

    #1. Consumer Reports seems incapable of conducting reliable crash tests. If they want to test misuse (not their intent), great, but compare apples to apples.
    So true! Do you know that even when they said that the Orbit infant seat should only be used with the seat belt, they showed it WRONG!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by LISmama810 View Post
    #2. The harder a seat is to use, the easier it is to misuse. The Orbit does come with very clear instructions, but it is VERY different to install than typical seats, and it's not intuitive at all. I can install most seats properly without reading the instructions (not that I do--I'm just saying), but the first time I did an Orbit, it took a long time to figure out. We already know that most parents don't bother with instructions, so...
    True too, their toddler car seat is really more like any convertible when used with the side impact braces but the base installation is very different but easy once you know how to do it, the thing is knowing how to do it...

    Quote Originally Posted by LISmama810 View Post
    #3. Seats need to be harder to misuse, and Consumer Reports needs to stop with the car seats already.
    You would think they got the message by now...

    Quote Originally Posted by LISmama810 View Post
    #4. I had another one, but I forgot.
    It really reassures me to know that I'm not the only one feeling that way Love it!!!

  17. #15
    Carseat Crazy MamanMag's Avatar
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    Re: NHTSA's Orbit conclusion

    Quote Originally Posted by TechnoGranola View Post
    And I agree with everything LISmama810 said. Making a seat harder to misuse, eliminates the need for testing of misuse and warning in manuals and makes the seat easier to use.
    That's really the bottom line! Well, one thing is for sure, when CR comes back one day and says that all the car seats that they tested passed their tests, it will mean that that magical day has come...

  18. #16
    CPSDarren - Admin SafeDad's Avatar
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    Re: NHTSA's Orbit conclusion

    Quote Originally Posted by MamanMag View Post
    That's really the bottom line! Well, one thing is for sure, when CR comes back one day and says that all the car seats that they tested passed their tests, it will mean that that magical day has come...
    Given their lack of reputation and expertise in this area, saying all car seats passed their testing is as meaningless as saying one, some or all car seats failed their testing. If you believe CR is at fault somehow, then seats passing their testing are no more trustworthy than those that have failed.

    It really is sad that they haven't made their testing data open and available to the public or had extensive peer review done before their results are given to the general public. This isn't a toaster or camera, it's a device intended to protect children from their #1 killer. This product area deserves a lot more respect than they have given it in the past.

    We may never know what happened here or whose fault it was. Nonetheless, it hasn't helped CR clean up its image in regard to child safety seats, especially since their pledge to improve after their flawed infant seat test results had to be retracted a couple years ago.

  19. #17
    Carseat Crazy MamanMag's Avatar
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    Re: NHTSA's Orbit conclusion

    Quote Originally Posted by CPSDarren View Post
    Given their lack of reputation and expertise in this area, saying all car seats passed their testing is as meaningless as saying one, some or all car seats failed their testing. If you believe CR is at fault somehow, then seats passing their testing are no more trustworthy than those that have failed.
    It was ironic As CR is so well known to not be able to use car seats properly... Misuses seem to be a common thing for them and it's unfortunate that people still believe them in the safety area...

    I think we pretty much all agree that CR should stick to toasters and lawn mowers...

  20. #18
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: NHTSA's Orbit conclusion

    What do the techs here think of the Orbit car seats? Would you recommend them?
    DS1 (7) in two Diono Montereys
    DS2 (4) in a Frontier 85 and a Britax Roundabout 55

  21. #19
    Senior Community Member BigDaddy's Avatar
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    Re: NHTSA's Orbit conclusion

    From what I can gather, if you talk to an expert in any field about CR, they have very little respect for them and their testing. I was discussing which head lamp would be the safest for my vehicle with a very respected lighting expert. When I mentioned CR, this is the reply that I got:

    Pardon me if I laugh.

    I am an appointed member of the National Academy of Sciences
    Transportation Research Board Visibility Committee. We are the world's
    primary consortium and coordination committee for motoring visibility
    related research. Two years ago, as a part of the NASTRB annual
    convention, we had a round table on headlamp performance and glare. A
    Consumers Union associate editor had requested and received permission to
    sit in, take notes and ask questions. Several of us spent a great deal of
    time explaining the issues and factors to this guy.

    The resultant CR article about headlamp seeing and glare was...passingly
    bizarre. It was as though the guy had attended a wholly different meeting.
    The article was loaded with gross errors of fact and unsupportable opinion
    presented as fact. The "rating system" CR has devised for headlamps has
    little relation to the real world, and their assertion that low beams
    should have more straight-ahead light AND a "more gradual transition from
    light to dark" would be laughable if it weren't so pathetically out of
    touch with the optical and physiological *realities* involved.

    Yes, I saw their recent headlamp bulb "test". In that bulb "test",
    Consumer Reports _found_ very little of substance. They *printed* their
    usual pseudoscientific claptrap having little to do with reality.

    Credit where it's due, their halfbaked headlamp "test" protocol discerned
    that Sylvania Silverstar bulbs put out very much less light than regular
    bulbs. But that's about the only kernel of truth in the whole article.
    They just took the bulb makers' word regarding DOT compliance ("All the
    tested bulbs claim DOT compliance") without checking -- shame on them. Had
    they checked, they'd likely have found that the APC Plasma Ultra White
    bulbs are very definitely *not* compliant in several important ways.

    They've made a lot of noise regarding their newly implemented headlamp
    "tests" over the last year or so. Typical CR selfgratulatory crapola. I
    won't bother rehashing the exact reasons why their headlamp "tests" are
    largely bogus unless you really want me to (this rant is already growing
    lengthy). It's not just a question of "Dan Stern doesn't agree with
    Consumer Reports"; it's much more serious than that: Many of their
    assumptions and recommendations regarding headlamps are just plain
    nonsense fabricated out of the same whole cloth that allows CR to consider
    themselves expert in everything from red wine to oil filters to washing
    machines to insurance policies.


  22. #20
    CPSDarren - Admin SafeDad's Avatar
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    Re: NHTSA's Orbit conclusion

    Quote Originally Posted by LP Mom View Post
    What do the techs here think of the Orbit car seats? Would you recommend them?
    Heather will have a review at www.carseatblog.com very soon. The individual products are quite nice, but where they really shine is when you collect them all. Infant, Toddler, Stroller. It really is a system, rather than just pieces that happen to click together. Of course, you do pay a premium for that.

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