The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently issued a final ruling on the standards for child safety seats. The standards update to improve the level of protection children get during an accident, especially in side-impact collisions. The NHTSA says the new ruling further ensures children do not sustain serious bodily injury in road accidents.
The Old Standard vs. The New NHTSA Standard
From the National Library of Medicine (NLM)’s reports, children are exposed to an increased risk of fatal injury in side-impact crashes. According to the NLM, side-impact collisions pose the most substantial threat to the safety of children. Compared to other accidents, such as near impact and frontal, side-impact collisions are more dangerous.
This new ruling published by the NHTSA is designed to address and mitigate these dangers. The ruling amends the Child Restraint systems under the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (213). It adds side-impact performance to the testing requirements for child safety seats.
The current standard does not require side-impact performance; only that child seats meet performance criteria for front-impact crashes. However, the new standard requires that safety seats meet the criteria for side-impact collisions at 30mph.
The new standard will require that a side-impact collision test be done with dummies modeled after a twelve-month-old and three-year-old. The test includes a simulation of what will happen to children and their safety seats in a T-bone or side-impact crash.
How serious are side-impact collisions?
Side-impact collisions are severe because there is less protection afforded to occupants by the sides of the vehicle. At the back, riders are protected by the trunk, and the car’s hood protects them at the front. However, there are only doors at the sides; side-impact crashes directly affect occupants.
Side-impact crashes, also known as T-bone crashes, often result in spinal cord injuries, broken limbs, internal decapitations, and concussions. Meanwhile, the CDC states that “certain factors can influence the risks of a child sustaining severe injuries in a crash.”
Vehicle Collision Risk Factors and How to Address Them
According to the CDC, below are some risk factors associated with vehicle collisions and how to address them:
In 2019, more than six hundred children aged twelve or under died in vehicle crashes, while 91,000 sustained injuries. Among that number are those who were not properly restrained in a child’s car safety seat when the accident occurred. The findings showed that 38 percent of the child fatalities did not wear seat belts.
Children cannot use seatbelts alone, meaning proper restraints of children with seatbelts depend on the driver’s use. Out of those who died, 67 percent were driving with a driver who was not using their seatbelt.
Furthermore, even when restrained, there is still a chance that parents use these restraint systems incorrectly. Meanwhile, reports show that drivers misuse over forty percent of car and booster seats to reduce their effectiveness. Car seats can mitigate the risks of crashes up to 82 percent, provided they are used correctly.
Our ability to safeguard children depends on our car testing requirements and the strength of current laws. Aside from the new standard, the CDS advocates for enlightenment programs alongside car seat distribution. This way, parents and guardians can obtain new car seats and learn how to install and use them properly.
“If your child was injured in an accident caused by someone else, a hardworking car accident attorney may be able to help, says attorney Amy Gaiennie of Amy G Injury Firm. “An attorney may be able to help you recover damages and ensure your family does not suffer additional financial hardship.”