The wife and 6 month old daughter of a friend of mine were in a car accident today, EVERYONE IS SAFE, and it was brought up that she now needs to replace her childs car seat. Something I had never thought of.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has changed their position about replacing car seats that have been in a MINOR accident, usually 10 MPH or less. A child seat involved in a MINOR accident is safe for reuse if it meets ALL of the following criteria:
- A visual inspection of the child safety seat, including inspection under any easily movable seat padding, does not reveal any cracks or deformation that might have been caused by the crash;
- The vehicle in which the child safety seat was installed was capable of being driven from the scene of the crash;
- The vehicle door nearest the child safety seat was undamaged;
- There were no injuries to any of the vehicle occupants; and;
- The air bags (if any) did not deploy.
- Recent studies demonstrate that child safety seats can withstand minor crash impacts without any documented degradation in subsequent performance.
- The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia ( ICBC ) subjected nine new and used child seats restraining 3-year-old dummies to a series of 50 consecutive 15 km/h sled tests into a 40% offset barrier. Three seats were inspected visually; no damage was apparent as a result of the impacts. Three seats underwent x-ray inspection; no damage was detected. Three seats were tested in accordance with Canadian federal standards (CMVSS 213) and were found to be in compliance with all standards.
- ICBC performed four vehicle crash tests at 48 and 64 km/h, with two child seats restraining 3-year-old dummies in each vehicle. Each seat was subjected to multiple impacts and visually inspected. Defects were noted and the seats were re-tested. Seats always performed as well in subsequent tests as they did in the first test.
- The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) performed 30 mph vehicle crash tests with dummies from six months to three years in a variety of child restraint systems (CRSs). Most seats sustained minor damage (e.g., frayed webbing, small cracks in the hard plastic shell, strain-whitening on the plastic shell or chest clip) but all dummies remained well secured by the restraints. Four of the damaged seats were subjected to three additional 30 mph crash tests. Although additional minor damage was observed in subsequent tests, the seats met all federal standards.
- The agency searched for, but was unable to find any cases in which a child safety seats were damaged in a minor crash (as defined in NHTSA Position).
Of course, NHTSA recommends that child safety seats be replaced following a moderate or severe crash in order to ensure a continued high level of crash protection for child passengers.
For questions regarding your child’s car seat, before or after an accident, contact the seat manufacture and your insurance agent. And don’t forget to check NHTSA (or your local Fire Department) to check the seat is always installed correctly!