The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a division of the Department of Transportation, issued a final rule last week that “updates testing requirements for child safety seats to improve the protection of children during side-impact crashes,” according to a press release. The rule is designed to keep young children from sustaining serious injuries in motor vehicle crashes.
The final rule, available here, amends an existing safety standard that governs child restraint systems. Whereas the existing standard “requires child seats to meet performance criteria in a test simulating a 30-mph frontal impact,” the new rule sets a standard for a side impact test, or “T-bone” crash,” also at a speed of 30mph. According to the NHTSA’s press release, that test involves a sliding vehicle seat and a vehicle door each placed on a set of rails. It “simulates what happens to a child and child seat in a T-bone crash,” using side impact test dummies to test the effectiveness of child safety seats. In addition to the “well-established” 12-month-old test dummy, these tests will also use the relatively new 3-year-old side impact test dummy. As the final rule providing for the use of the new test dummy explains, it is “an instrumented dummy that can assess the performance of child restraint systems in protecting small children in side impacts.”
In a statement about the final rule updating testing requirements for child safety seats, NHTSA Administrator Steven Cliff said, “Side-impact collisions cause serious injuries and deaths in young children each year. By establishing more comprehensive testing requirements, we are advancing child passenger safety and assuring parents that the safety seat they choose for their child must meet the highest safety standards.”