The National Highway Traffic Safety Adminsitration (NHTSA) proposed this week a new side impact test for child restraint systems. The proposal will build on the successful work already accomplished by the implementation of child seats over the years. Without question, the use of child restraint systems in vehicles have saved many lives over the years and the new proposal will add to that record of success.
The Center For Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the use of child safety seats in passenger cars reduces the risk of death by 71% for infants, and 54% for toddlers ages 1 to 4 years old. It is estimated by the NHTSA that the new safety standards would prevent roughly five deaths and sixty-four injuries annually.
Under the proposal, child seats would be subjected to a sled test which emulates a T-bone crash similar to what would be experienced by a parent traveling with children through an intersection and being struck by someone running a stop signal. The vehicle on the sled test will be traveling at 15 mph while being struck by a vehicle traveling 30 mph. The sled test will use a 12 month old child dummy and a 3 year old child dummy, and is designed to measure the effectiveness of the child seat in protecting the child from injuries to the head and chest from an intruding vehicle door.
Under the proposal, the car seat manufacturer will have a three year timeframe to make any necessary changes to meet the proposed requirements.
Motor vehicle injuries are a leading cause of death among children in the United States. Continued education in the proper use of child restraining systems and continual improvements in their effectiveness, will go a long way to reducing the number of these tragedies.