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NHTSA wants car seats to be safer for T-bone car accidents

Car seats have been standard equipment for parents of young children for many years. It has become almost automatic to strap a little child into the car seat before driving him or her around town. Besides keeping the tyke from roaming through the vehicle, these seats are supposed to help keep them safe if there is a car accident.

But many car seats currently on the market have a serious weakness, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. They are calling for increased safety standards for child seats, in order to make them more effective against a specific, common type of auto collision.

NHTSA is concerned about situations where a vehicle stops at a stop sign or red light, accelerate through the intersection when the time is right, only to be struck on the side by a car from the cross street.

The NHTSA says that not enough car seats are designed and made with this sort of car accident in mind. So it wants manufacturers’ car seats to pass a new type of crash test before they can sell them in the U.S.

The proposed test would simulate the seat containing a child of up to 40 pounds. The vehicle would travel 15 miles per hour on a sled until it is T-boned by another vehicle doing 30 mph. This configuration, NHTSA says, would accurately cover about 90 percent of this form of accident that take place in the real world.

The proposed new regulation will not be finalized until after NHTSA answers all questions raised during a 90-day period for public comment. That could take years. And if it does get enacted, car seat makers will have three years before it must follow the new requirement. So it could be some time before the seats are made safer.

Source: WTVD-TV, “New rules sought to make child car seats safer,” Joan Lowy, Jan. 22, 2014

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