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NHTSA Proposes First Ever Side Impact Test for Child Car Seats

If you are a parent, you know that the safety of your children on the road is non-negotiable, and as adults, many of us choose our next car by factoring in how safe we believe it will be for our children. It may surprise you to learn that while safety agencies test crashworthiness for many different scenarios, they have never utilized a test that analyzes side impacts in child car seats; but that’s about to change. In late January, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed multiple upgrades to the federal motor vehicle safety standards that govern child car seats and restraint systems in an effort to better protect children involved in side impact car accidents.

The proposal includes the introduction of the first-ever side impact test for child car seats sold in the United States. According to the stipulations of the NHTSA’s plan, each car seat would be subjected to a ‘sled test’ that simulates a T-bone car accident. The front of a vehicle, which will be traveling at a speed of 30 miles per hour, will strike the side door of a small passenger vehicle (containing the car seat and test dummy) that is traveling at 15 miles per hour. There is currently no comparable test in the world for simulating both the acceleration of a vehicle and the vehicles doors caving in toward a child.

The NHTSA will use a pre-existing 12-month-old child dummy to measure impacts, and have also announced that they will be collecting data for older children by utilizing a newly developed 3-year-old child crash test dummy. Evaluation from the data collected will focus on the capacity of each car seat model to prevent harmful head contact with intruding vehicle doors, and dissipate the forces of an accident, diverting them away from a child’s head and chest. The safety agency says it will allow car-seat manufacturers 3-years to make the changes necessary to meet their proposed requirements. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)

Car seats are a vital tool for keeping your children safe from harm in the event of an accident. As Chicago car accident lawyers, we see far too many preventable injuries, and the unfortunate reality is that no matter how responsible you are with your own driving, you can never predict the actions of others. For this reason, we urge you to research the best possible safety restraint systems for your child’s age, height, and weight, and understand how to properly install it. This information can be easily accessed at NHTSA.gov, as well as a variety of other website, so it is crucial that you utilize it. Like we said, the safety of your kids is non-negotiable.