Testing The Car Seat

Car seats are improved a little bit each year, becoming increasingly more cushioned and high tech, but 2014 will be the first year for improvements in the regulations department.

On Jan. 22, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a proposal for a first-ever side impact crash test for child restraint systems. This proposal has been ten years in the making. Why so long? In an interview with USA Today, NHTSA administrator, David Friedman, said, “It’s more complicated than you would think.”

car seatIn 2003, when research began, it was obvious that side-crash impact caused injury to children in child restraint systems, but in order to figure out the best way to protect children, the agency had to examine how exactly it caused injury. Years later, once the NHTSA fully understood the issue, they could then go in and begin constructing the test.

According to the proposal, the test will simulate a “T-bone” crash, where the front of a vehicle traveling 30 mph strikes the side of a small passenger vehicle traveling at 15 mph and use dummies replicating a 12-month-old infant and 3-year-old child. It will be required for all car seats holding children weighing up to 40 pounds.

With the proposal officially released, there will now be a three-month comment period in which citizens can give feedback. Once comments and arguments have been addressed by the agency, regulations will be made final. The agency will give car seat-makers three years to change all seats to meet this requirement. It is anticipated to cost manufacturers $0.50 extra to make.

Many car seat manufacturers have already begun to create models with side protection that will most likely meet the new requirement. So it is very likely that consumers already have proper seats for their children, but the New York Baby Show, which is only a few months away, will be the perfect opportunity to scope out the newest models. Be sure to look for “side wings.”