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Car Safety for Kids: Side-Impact Tests Coming for Car Seats and New Data Confirms Buckling Saves Children’s Lives

Published on Feb 19, 2014 at 8:09 am in Child Injury.

In recent car seat news, side-impact crash testing may soon be required. In addition, national data shows that for fatalities involving children 12 and younger, one in three weren’t buckled up.

Side-Impact Testing Proposed for Car Seats

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has proposed a new rule requiring manufacturers to test car seats for safety from side impact in crashes. Consumer advocates point out that this is similar to the protection required for adults.

The test would require use of dummies simulating a one year-old infant and a three year-old. The goal is that the seats should prevent harmful head contact if a side door comes into the car, and the seats should reduce crash forces absorbed by the head and chest. The protections would be required for children up to 40 pounds.

According to the NHTSA, many of the current child seats already meet the proposed rule, but some will need more padding. The estimated cost for the fix is only about 50 cents a seat.

The requirement has been about 10 years in the making. It’s a complicated process to fully understand how side impacts are harming children, and how to compensate for that. The NHTSA predicts that the new requirements would save five lives and prevent 64 injuries each year.

National Data Again Shows Proper Child Restraints Save Lives

National data shows that while the number of vehicle collision-related deaths of children 12 and younger went down over the period from 2002 – 2011. That was the good news. However, the data also showed that 9,000 children died during this period. Progress is being made to protect children, but, tragically, many of those deaths were preventable.

A new report issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that one in three children who died from crashes that period was not buckled up. The CDC stressed that the best way to reduce fatalities and injuries is not only to use seat belts, but to use “age- and size-appropriate child restraints (car seats, booster seats, and seat belts).”

According to the CDC’s news release, “The report found that almost half of all black (45 percent) and Hispanic (46 percent) children who died in crashes were not buckled up, compared to 26 percent of white children (2009-2010).”

The CDC stressed the important role that parents and caregivers play in keeping children safe, and also in modeling safe behavior by using seat belts themselves.