NHTSA Proposes Regulations For Child Car Seats To Protect Children In Side-Impact Crashes

NHTSA Proposes Regulations For Child Car Seats to Protect Children in Side-Impact Crashes

The NHTSA is Proposing a New Regulation Requiring Child Car Seats be tested for Side-Impact Crashes


In an effort to make children safer during vehicle crashes, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has proposed new regulations for child car seats. The new regulations would require that car seats undergo a side crash test during safety testing. The NHTSA estimates that these new crash tests could prevent the deaths of 5 children per year and cut back on about 64 injuries per year.

If the proposal passes, all child car seats would have to pass the new side crash tests in addition to existing front and back crash tests. This would make any car seat that failed the tests illegal and subject to recall once the new regulations are in place. The proposed regulations would ensure children were safe in t-bone accidents occurring as a result of a side impacts at stoplights and from other low-impact crashes.

Child Safety Seat Test Details

The NHTSA has released a proposal that would require car manufacturers to simulate a “T-bone” crash during the testing phase of each new car seat. During the test, the front of a vehicle traveling 30 MPH would strike a passenger vehicle traveling at 15 MPH. The test would position the car seat on a sled and hit the side of the first sled with another sled. The tests would not use actual vehicles, as the aim of the safety test is not to test the crash-worthiness of specific vehicle models.

The side-impact test will simulate the acceleration of the struck vehicle and the impact of the vehicle door moving in toward the car seat. The test will involve dummies simulating a 12-month-old child and a 3-year-old child.

Crash Statistics Involving Child Car Seats

Statistics collected by the NHTSA indicates that many child injuries occur from side-impact crashes taking place at a stop light when another vehicle fails to stop and strikes the first vehicle in the side. According to the National Safety Council, vehicle crashes remain the number one killer for children aged 3-14.

In 2011 (the most recent available crash statistics), Ohio saw a total of 9 crash fatalities among children aged 0-8. Only 66 percent of children who died in car crashes in this age group used a child restraint system. 4,188 children aged 0-8 were injured in 2011, and 91 percent of these children used a child restraint system.

Nationally, about 3 children under the age of 14 were killed daily as a result of vehicle crashes in 2011. 41 percent of these children were unrestrained. Among children 4 and younger, 30 percent of fatalities were due to the lack of child car seats.

(January 2014, http://www.nsc.org/safety_road/DriverSafety/Pages/ChildPassengerSafety.aspx) January 2014, http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811767.pdf) (January 2014, http://www.publicsafety.ohio.gov/links/2011CrashFacts.pdf)

Existing Child Car Seats with Side Impact Protection

Some car seat manufacturers are already adding side impact protection to their car seats without waiting for the regulations to pass. The world’s largest car seat manufacturer, the Dorel Juvenile Group based in Ohio, has added air bags to some models for additional protection during a side impact. These air bags have been used since 2009. The Ohio company also uses impact-absorbing technology to protect children during crashes inspired by technology used in Indy race cars. Brands that currently offer models with side-impact protection include:

  • Britax
  • Graco
  • Orbit
  • Safety 1st
  • Recaro

Regulation Deadline

The public has 90 days to make adjustments to the regulations before the agency makes the requirements final. In some cases, this process can take years. However, the NHTSA has stated that it hopes this regulation will move faster. Once the proposal is implemented, car seat manufacturers will have three years to meet the new requirements.

The NHTSA hopes that by requiring these stricter tests, children will remain safer while traveling.

[January 2014, http://world.einnews.com/article/186862721/6R-uuff5ImeYNaDz?n=1&code=nEJvGo3_1nmNpqZ1]

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