CBC News: MP Olivia Chow Demands Release of Test Results
May 26, 2009
OTTAWA – Transport Canada is refusing to release the results of six years’ worth of tests on child car seats, prompting strong criticism from a prominent consumer group and an opposition MP.
The ministry, which is responsible for ensuring road safety, has declined to release the results of hundreds of tests that have been conducted since 2003, saying they are “not for compliance” and “were technical in nature.”
Transport Canada told CBC that the test results “can contain third-party information and … there may be a potential for unfair material damage to the private sector without cause.”
But the tests carried out in Canada were similar to U.S. trials that uncovered significant safety issues in some seats, CBC News has learned.
The U.S. tests gauged the effects of front and side crash impacts on the seats, and were conducted at speeds of 56 km/h. An unrestrained child in a car that crashed while travelling at 50 km/h would suffer an impact similar to that of a child dropped from a third-storey window.
The U.S. tests, conducted in 2008, showed that some seats flew off their bases, while others failed injury limits. As a result of the tests, two different Combi child restraint seats were recalled in North America. The U.S. Department of Transportation only released the test details after a Chicago newspaper first publicized the results in March.
Transport Canada, which confirmed it had also found problems with the Combi seats, declined to provide details of problems with any other car seats.
“We have provided all available information on this issue,” a Transport Canada spokesperson told CBC News.
‘What are they thinking of?’
Bruce Cran of the Consumers’ Association of Canada said Transport Canada has an obligation to publicize the results so parents can make informed choices when purchasing seats.
“Shame on Transport Canada, what were they thinking of?” he told CBC News. “This is a Canadian ministry looking at things that might protect our children and they won’t tell us the results of tests they did with public funds? This is absolutely ludicrous.”
Olivia Chow, the NDP children and childcare critic, called on the government Tuesday to release the result of the tests.
“The government has an obligation to protect its citizens above any corporate interests,” said Chow in a statement.
“I’m calling on the government to release this information immediately, good or bad, so parents can have the most up to date information on how to keep their children safe.”
In April, the U.S. Department of Transportation started a consumer program that helps parents find a child restraint that best suits their vehicles. Transport Canada said it is monitoring the U.S. changes.
Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for Canadian children and teens, according to the Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program. According to Transport Canada, 10,000 children under the age of 12 are injured in traffic crashes every year.