Question Safety Test Britax Advocate

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wendytthomas

Admin - CPST Instructor
Staff member
Hi there!

The key word in your post is "advertised."

All seats pass NHTSA required testing. FMVSS 213 (NHTSA testing) is pass/fail. Beyond that, it's apples and oranges. Britax may have internal testing they do (in fact, I'm sure of it. All companies do), but we have no way to know what their standards are. Without standards, we don't know what "40% safer" means. But it sure does sound nice. We don't know how that translates to a reduction in child injuries.

What we do know is that all seats, properly installed and used, will reduce the injury to a child in a crash. That is, by far, the most important thing. Whether you use a $40 or $400 seat, install and use it properly. I'd must rather seat a $40 seat installed and used properly than a $400 seat misused.

How old, tall, and heavy is your child? If you have a super tall child, the Advocate rear faces longer by height than the Emblem. The Boulevard is just as tall as the Advocate. Same forward facing. The Advocate and Boulevard have the same forward facing harnessing time. The Emblem doesn't harness quite as long. And there may be other brands that will do what is necessary longer than those. If you have a 36 pound 18 month old, probably none of these are the best option for rear facing as long as possible.

Wendy
 

SafeDad

CPSDarren - Admin
Staff member
I am not very familiar with Baby Gear Lab and have never seen anything about their crash testing protocol at industry conferences or publications. For example, if they only use the same protocol as the federal standard 213 pass/fail system, then they are using a very old protocol that doesn't adequately replicate modern vehicles, was never intended as a comparative tool and doesn't even consider critical head excursion numbers that are essential to compare a risk of injury in a frontal crash. Consumer Reports is a very large organization that also does limited crash testing. Though they do attend conferences and their newer crash test protocol is now often used by manufacturers internally, even their crash testing is not nearly compelling enough to make a valid purchase decision. I note they give the Advocate their top rating of "Best" in crash protection in their frontal crash test. Even Consumer Reports does not currently do side impact testing at all. Side impacts are where a model like the Advocate may have an advantage over a model like the Boulevard, Emblem or other car seats.

Anyway, the first questions you might consider are about the testing itself. Did BabyGearLab (or any publication) have statisticians and respected industry experts review their data and certify their conclusions are scientifically valid? Has this source of information published their methodology for crash testing and for correlating crash test results to risk of injury in a peer-reviewed journal? If not, do they at least answer if they performed testing on a statistically significant number of samples and then publish the results with margins of error and other statistical information to rule out typical test-to-test variations? I would guess not, if only because their results varied so much between models like the Boulevard and Advocate that are effectively IDENTICAL in a frontal crash.

There is a reason that the government (NHTSA) and organizations like the IIHS have not produced a crash testing system to allow safety comparisons among car seats like they have for vehicles. It is *extremely* expensive to perform so many crash tests that are necessary to be statistically significant and then to correlate them to real-world risk of injury in published research so that they can be given any type of comparative safety rating. Even Consumer Reports has not done this with their crash testing protocol. I would have a lot of questions about any other source of car seat crash test information before basing a car seat purchase on their crash test results. If they are simply crash testing each model once to FMVSS 213 standards and then comparing standard injury measures from the dummy to determine which one is safer, that is a marketing curiosity, NOT a valid comparative safety testing protocol!

Sadly, there simply is no comparative crash-test-based safety rating for car seats today like there is for new vehicles with the IIHS "Top Safety Pick" and NHTSA "5-star" ratings systems.
 
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