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NHTSA wants child safety seats held to new standards

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On Wednesday the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published a press release outlining their proposal to enhance the federal standard for child car seats to ensure that children are safer in side-impact crashes.

The test, which would apply to car seats for children weighing up to 40 pounds, would simulate a side-impact or "T-bone" crash, and in order to pass the seat would have to protect a test dummy from contact with the intruding door. The NHTSA cites that 64 injuries and five additional deaths by this mechanism would be prevented annually if child seats are to to be held to this higher standard.

This proposed test would be new and different in several ways. The proposed crash test which utilizes "sleds" to propel test vehicles (like you see on TV commercials) would simulate a vehicle traveling 15 MPH being struck in the side door by a vehicle traveling 30 MPH. This type of side-impact can cause an "intrusion," meaning that the car door caves into the passenger area. The idea will be to ensure that the car seat will protect a child from direct contact with the intruding door. The test would use an existing type of dummy the size of a 12-month-old baby, as well as a newly developed dummy the size of a three-year-old child.

If the proposal is approved as written, seat manufacturers will be given three years to update designs to pass the new standards. The proposal is being published in the Federal Register and will be open for public comment for 90 days.

The NHTSA website SaferCar.gov is a great site to find this type of information. You can also search for recalls of the car seat you currently use, and find instructions for proper car seat installation. There is also a SaferCar app for iOS in the iTunes app store, which you can use to find the same information.

What do you think about the proposed new regulations? Have you had a scary experience with a car seat? Tell me all about it in the comments below.

Stay safe and be well.

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