Last month the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced the decision to start requiring child safety seats for side-impact crash tests. This change comes after years of countless advocation by Congress and fellow safety promoters. By law, all children must be secured properly in a crash-tested and federally approved car seat that is appropriate for their age, height, and weight. Yet until now, the only federal crash test required involved a simulated 30-mph front impact collision. This improved testing criteria will now take into account the T-bone crash, which is a frequent occurrence among roadways across the nation. Read on to learn about the importance of child safety seats and how soon this new rule will go into effect.
The importance of child safety seats
According to the CDC, motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of death among children in the U.S. Which that means, the car seat or booster seat you choose for you child does matter. Every seat must comply with the age and size of the child to ensure that optimal protection is achieved during a crash. In fact, buckling up a child in an age appropriate car seat, booster seat or seat belt will reduce their risk of serious injury by 80%.
Image source: CDC
Now that the NHTSA has officially approved the rule for side-impact crash testing for car safety seats, it’s likely we’ll see an even greater improvement in child safety in the coming years. And although front safety crash tests are still necessary, various reports have found that dummy testing did not give sufficient results for the scoring it typically receives.
What caused the need for improved testing?
Over the years we’ve seen how IIHS and NHTSA testing impacts our perception of car safety. But one area that’s remained skeptical by government officials and parents alike is the testing of car seats. In a report by CBS News, the reality of car seat safety and its pitfalls came to light, specifically surrounding the safety of booster seats. News outlets found that the standard testing performed for booster seats did not stand grounds for a passing score. In other words, families have been misled for decades about the efficacy of these car safety seats.
the test dummies were violently tossed around during the tests.”
Since the 2020 CBS report, several attorneys, safety advocates, and members of Congress have taken action for the NHTSA’s inaction. With more pressure mounted on the safety organization, the recent ruling shows a positive change ahead for testing criteria. Even if it’s decades too late.
How long do car seat manufacturers have to comply?
The NHTSA has established a time frame of three years for seat makers to start implementing side-impact crash testing. Although it’s a long time coming, we are extremely glad this safety ruling will save millions of lives down the road. Not to mention, put a stop to child endangerment while in the vehicle.
Here’s a few details to keep in mind about this new rule:
- The affected car seats are those meant for children that weigh up to 40 pounds and reach a height of 43.3 inches tall.
- This impacts most children age 0 months to 4 or 5 years old.
- Parents can stay up-to-date on the ruling by visiting the NHTSA official website.
It’s important to note, this ruling will not go into effect until it is officially published in the Federal Register. However, the NHTSA’s decision to require more vigorous testing is already a step in the right direction. The more testing required, the greater opportunity there is for safety to improve as a whole.
Thanks for reading! Want to learn more about child safety? Head over to our blog post on How Parents Can Keep Their Child Safe From Hot Car Deaths. There you’ll gain a greater awareness of one of the leading causes of summer deaths in the U.S.