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Proposed Regulations to Better Protect Child Passengers

Car seats could soon for the very first time be required to protect children from injury and death in side-impact accidents under new regulations proposed by the government.

According to the Los Angeles Times, officials with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently upgraded standards for car seats that are used to protect children who weigh up to 40 pounds. The update included a new test that simulated a side-impact accident. Officials estimate that these new standards could help to prevent about five fatalities and more than 60 injuries each year. If all parents properly used the seats, hundreds of lives could be saved and thousands of injuries prevented.

“Car seats are an essential tool for keeping young children safe in vehicles, and they have a proven track record of saving lives,” David Friedman, NHTSA Acting Administrator.

Our child injury lawyers in Margate note the new test would reenact a “t-bone” accident, in which the front of a vehicle traveling at 30 miles per hour would hit the side of a small-passenger vehicle traveling at 15 miles per hour. According to recent NHTSA research, these kinds of accidents cover about 90 percent of the side-impact accidents we see each day. According to studies, many child injuries and deaths in side-impact accidents involve a vehicle stopped at an intersection, usually at a stop sign or a red light. When the car begins to move forward, it’s oftentimes hit in the side by a vehicle that’s traveling faster on the cross street.

Aside from using the 1-year-old dummy that has already been approved in NHTSA guidelines, the test will now also include a dummy representing a 3-year-old.

The new guidelines apply to the weight threshold for using the so-called LATCH system involving anchors built into the bottom of a car’s rear seat and tethers that are part of the child seat. Those anchors have been required on cars since 2002, and safety advocates believe they offer a better fit than seat belts, which don’t always mesh well with the dozens of different car seats on the market.

Some vehicle manufacturers are already working to improve survival rates for small children in these kinds of accidents. Some have been incorporating small air bags into some seats to help to protect a child’s head in the event of a collision. Other companies have been experimenting with impact-absorbing technology, like the kinds used to protect drivers in Indy race cars, which come build into the sides of the seats.

There currently is a federal safety requirement car seats must meet for frontal crashes.

Unfortunately, accidental injury is the leading cause of child death in the U.S. and auto accidents top the list. On a positive note, traffic fatalities involving young children have dropped sharply since the mid-1970s partly due to increasing use of car seats.

“In a side crash, the vehicle is moving laterally and often forward, and the door also intrudes into your space,” said Matthew R. Maltese, head of biomechanics research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “It all happens in a short period of time — tenths of seconds.”

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

More Blog Entries:

Child Passenger Safety Week to Protect Our Youngest Motorists, Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Attorney Blog, September 26, 2013

Officials Working to Protect Your Child In and Around Cars, Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Attorney Blog, April 5, 2013

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