baby in a car seat

NHTSA Issues Final Ruling on Child Restraint Side-Impact Protection

Car accidents can be tragic, especially if a child is involved in the crash. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death and injury among children in the United States. While Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) currently hold child restraints (car seats) to certain specifications regarding frontal-impacts, no such standards were applicable for side-impacts until recently.

Children Involved in Fatal Car Accidents

According to a study from 2019 conducted by the NHTSA, car accidents resulted in approximately 36,096 fatal injuries, with 177 being children aged 3 years old and younger. It was estimated that child restraint systems (CRS) were found to reduce the risk of fatality by 71 percent for children under the age of 1 while reducing by 54 percent for those ages 1 to 4 years old.

What Does the Final Ruling Say?

The majority of child fatalities in car accidents are due to both frontal impact and side-impacts. However, FMVSS No. 213 only specified standards and requirements for CRS to meet regarding frontal-impacts. side-impacts were never mentioned. This new ruling, “FMVSS No. 213a”, expands the current CRS testing to include side-impact collision testing.

Why is This Important?

FMVSS No. 214 already specifies performance requirements for vehicles involved in side-impact collisions, but due to the fragility and overall size, children depend on CRS as an added protective measure while in a vehicle.

As they stand now, the NHTSA currently estimates the effectiveness of CRS in side-impact collisions at 42 percent in preventing death, while they are 53 percent effective in preventing death in frontal-impacts.

What are the Testing Requirements?

The new side-impact test requirements will be equivalent to those for a frontal impact test, including:

  • CRS must limit the amount of inertial load on a child’s head and chest
  • CRS must limit head movement during a collision
  • CRS must not fracture or separate in a way that harms the child
  • Belt and buckles must safely restrain the child and be easily detached by the adult after collision

Will it Work?

The NHTSA estimates that the new side-impact testing requirements will save approximately 15 lives per year.

Your Car Accident Attorneys in Oklahoma City, OK

If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident, it is important to have an experienced attorney on your side. The attorneys at Fulmer Sill understand the complexities of automobile accidents and can help you every step of the way. Contact us today for more information about our services and how we can help you.

Call us today at (405) 433-7414 or schedule a free consultation by filling out our form online.


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