The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has proposed a new rule to establish new crash test requirements designed to provide better protection to children in one of the most serious crash types: T-Bone or side impact collisions. Before new National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regulations are passed, there is a lengthy process including 90 days for public comments.
While the high risks of side impact accidents have long been acknowledged, minimal requirements exist to ensure car seats can stand up to the force of these collisions and keep kids safe. Crash testing is largely focused on how car seats respond to head-on accidents and an experienced T-Bone accident attorney in Longwood, FL knows shifting the focus to include side-impact safety can go a long way towards saving lives.
Although children will continue to be at risk as the new mandates move through the rule making process, new crash test safety requirements will hopefully be the outcome.
New Crash Test to Protect Kids from T-Bone Collisions
Child restraints unquestionably help reduce some of the most serious injuries after collisions and are instrumental in preventing fatalities. NY Times reports 3,308 children under four are alive today after 2011 motor vehicle crashes because they were in a car seat at the time.
Car seats cannot save every child. In 2009, 322 kids under four were killed in car accidents. Eight percent of the children were just buckled in seat belts, and 29 percent were not restrained, while 55 percent were in a child restraint system according to Safe Rides 4 Kids.
Children in side impact or T-Bone crashes may be especially at-risk even in a car seat. Side-impact crashes lead to an average of five child fatalities and 60 injures annually. T-Bone accidents occur when a car is struck from the side. Usually, they happen at intersections when one car heads straight and a car from a cross street hits the vehicle's side.
The side of a car is thin and cannot absorb much force, unlike a car's front end. The result is the driver and passengers inside the vehicle, including children, absorb the full crash impact. Even when side airbags are installed and can partly cushion the blow, these airbags are typically not as effective as front airbags.
Car seats are also not necessarily as effective at preventing T-Bone crash injuries. It is unclear whether car seats are designed properly for this purpose because there are minimal crash test requirements specifically addressing side impact protection. NHTSA is trying to change that by instituting new crash test protocols to assess whether a child safety seat supports chest, shoulders, and head of a child when a vehicle gets struck from the side.
New crash test requirements will impact car seats for children under 40 pounds, which usually is children up to four years old. The testing will be performed with the car seats on sleds, as the goal is to ensure the seats are assessed and not the safety features of the vehicles the car seats are in.
Adults and children may suffer serious injuries or fatalities in side-impact collisions. An experienced T-Bone accident attorney knows there are steps parents can take to try to protect their kids and minimize risk of life-changing or life-ending injuries.