Consumer Reports tests new car seat safety feature

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- If you're looking for a car seat for your baby, we've got some important information about a new safety feature to look for.

Consumer Reports most recent testing included several infant seats with a new safety feature that's common in Europe, but is only now making its way to the United States.

In the forty years that Consumer Reports has been testing car seats, a lot has changed from the seat and harness styles, to way they are secured in cars. All the changes have dramatically improved child passenger safety.

The most recent improvement is called the load leg.

"The load leg is a support that extends from the base of the infant seat to the vehicle floor, making the seat more stable and safer for the baby," said Emily Thomas, Ph.D., Consumer Reports Car Seat Expert.

Consumer Reports recently updated its ratings of rear-facing infant seats, which typically offer the best fit for children under one year old.

The four tested seats with load legs received Consumer Reports' highest crash performance rating in a simulated 35-mile-per-hour crash test.

Side-by-side crash footage shows how similar seats from the same manufacturer perform with and without the load leg. Although both performed well, the seat with the load leg has less forward motion than the one without it.

"In our crash tests, seats with a load leg resulted in almost a 50 percent decrease in head injury risk to the dummy compared to seats without it," said Thomas.

Even though the load leg adds a step to the installation, Consumer Reports evaluations found it easy to use. But you will pay a premium for this new feature. Seats that include a load leg tend to be expensive, with prices ranging from $250 to almost $400 dollars.

While Consumer Reports says that all seats are safe when used and installed correctly, seats with a load leg feature offer an additional margin of safety.

Consumer Reports warns that not all American cars are designed to work with this new style of car seat. If you're considering an infant seat with a load leg, be sure to check your vehicle manual for any restrictions.

To view the full report from Consumer Reports, CLICK HERE.
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