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From Products Liability Law Daily, January 23, 2014

NHTSA proposes first-ever side impact test for child restraint systems

By Joe Bichl

A number of upgrades to child-restraint system regulations, including a first-ever side impact test for car seats sold in the United States that are designed for children weighing up to 40 pounds, have been proposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

In the proposed test simulating a side-impact vehicle crash, child restraints would be required to demonstrate a minimum level of protection in side impacts by effectively restraining the child, preventing harmful head contact with an intruding vehicle door or child restraint structure, and by tempering crash forces to the child’s head and chest. NHTSA estimates that the proposal would save five lives and prevent 64 injuries annually.

“Car seats are an essential tool for keeping young children safe in vehicles and have a proven track record of saving lives,” said NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman in an agency release. “Today we continue to build on our extensive child seat safety program by adding side-impact crash protection for the first time.”

Regulations currently require child restraints to meet a dynamic test simulating a 30 miles per hour frontal impact. Under the proposal, car seats would be tested in a specially designed sled test that simulates a “T-bone” crash, where the front of a vehicle traveling 30 mph strikes the side of a small passenger vehicle traveling at 15 mph. The agency declared that the proposed sled test is the “first of its kind in the world for testing child restraints in a sled system that simulates the vehicle acceleration and intruding door of a small passenger car in a side impact (a vehicle-to-vehicle intersection crash).”

In addition to using an existing 12-month-old child dummy, the proposed test would also utilize a newly developed side-impact dummy representing a 3-year-old child. NHTSA suggested a 3-year timeframe for car-seat manufacturers to make any necessary changes to meet the proposed requirements once they become final.

MainStory: TopStory ProposedRules NHTSANewsStory MotorEquipmentNews ChildrensProductsNews

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