Child Car Seat Tests Falling Behind

Posted By The Carlson Law Firm || 1-Nov-2012

For most parents, securing young children in a car seat before hitting the road is as automatic as buckling their own seatbelt. But, some parents may be disconcerted to discover that they could be relying on safety equipment that is not tested under the exacting conditions necessary to guarantee protection in many motor vehicle accidents. As federal officials struggle to overcome car seat testing obstacles, uncertainty remains over the adequacy of child safety restraints.

A Troubling Lack of Oversight

Car accidents are the number one cause of death for children between the ages of three and 14. Unfortunately, while adult crash testing has been in advanced development for years, similar research for child safety has fallen behind. For example, current car seat safety standards for younger and smaller children only concern effectiveness in front end crashes.

Contributing to the problem is the fact that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) has thus far been unable to produce realistic child crash test dummies. While adult versions have been perfected for decades, child dummies do not accurately reflect the unique physiological attributes of children. Among other differences, children have less rigid spines and weaker chests than adults, which cause skewed data in the NHTSA car crash tests that essentially use shrunken down adult dummies. The NHTSA cites scientific difficulties as well as a shortage of funding for the delay in dummy development.

Another problem with car seats is that they often are not designed to accommodate the growing number of overweight or obese children. Many children weigh more than the recommended limit for available seats, which can lead to malfunction in the event of a motor vehicle accident. Again, the failure of the NHTSA to produce dummies similarly weighted to a large child means accurate testing has not taken place.

Car Accident Remedies

Since the NHTSA only tests a limited number of products every year, many manufacturers “self-certify” that their car seats meet safety standards. Between the inadequacy of testing and the lack of compliance/enforcement standards, unsafe car seats can easily slip through the cracks.

If your child has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact a personal injury attorney with experience in automobile crashes. If design, testing, or manufacturing errors in your child’s car seat contributed to injuries, you may be able to collect monetary damages. In addition, by holding negligent car seat makers responsible, you will be incentivizing the development of better, safer car seats in the future.


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