The government tests cars for crashworthiness — why not child car seats too?

That's the question implicit in today's NYT report on tests of child car seats run by our friends at Consumer Reports. The Times explains:

A new testing procedure, said by the magazine to represent an investment of more than a half-million dollars and over two years of work, was developed to evaluate the crash protection provided by child seats. The results are intended to equip parents with the information needed to compare the safety level of seats, in this case those designed for infants. . . .

While ratings of crash safety are readily available for new cars and trucks through the government’s New Car Assessment Program on a five-star scale, there is no comparable ranking of children’s car seats conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The obvious question: why not? Consumer Reports tested the seats under tougher (and more realistic) conditions than required to meet federal safety standards, and found significant differences in results. Read more here.