US: NHTSA plans to demand safer child seats image

New rules coming from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration aim to make child car seats even safer than before.

The new NHTSA rules say children seats would now have to protect children from death or injury in side-impact, as well as frontal, crashes. The automotive safety agency estimates the upgrade would prevent the deaths of about five children each year while preventing another 64 injuries.

NHTSA’s Acting Administrator David Friedman will formally make an announcement of the new standards today. The proposal has been discussed and debated for a decade and at least some child safety seat manufacturers already claim to be producing seats that can meet the regulations – which cover seats for children of up to 40 pounds (18 kg).

“As a father of two, I know the peace of mind this proposed test will give parents,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. The new standards “will give parents and car seat makers important new data on how car seats perform in side crashes.”

The revised standards still have to undergo a period of public discussion but if approved would involve a new test procedure using a new 3-year-old crash dummy in a side-impact crash. To pass, a car seat would have to safely restrain a child by preventing its head from making contact with an intruding vehicle door, while also reducing the crash forces that would be transmitted to the child’s head and chest.
The tests are designed to simulate a so-called “T-bone” crash, such as those that occur when a vehicle starts to cross an intersection after a stop and then is struck by another vehicle running a red light. The tests will use sleds designed to simulate such an incident, according to NHTSA, which would involve a vehicle moving at 15 mph being struck by another vehicle at 30 mph.