There are a lot of perceptions about child car seats that parents across the nation, including many here in New York, have. One is that the more expensive a car seat, the safer it is. Another is that if a car seat is on the market, then you can trust that it’s safe. And finally, if a manufacturer says that a car seat is safe then you assume that it’s been thoroughly tested. But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration pointed out this month that these perceptions aren’t necessarily true, especially when it comes to thorough safety testing, which has resulted in a proposition recently that could prevent many serious injuries from occurring in the future.

Many of our readers here in Forest Hills might be surprised to learn that not all car seats are tested the same way. Although existing regulations require car-seat manufacturers to demonstrate that a car seat can withstand a front-end collision with another vehicle, they do not require manufacturers to test for side-impact collisions. While some manufacturers, such as Dorel, claim to do side-impact testing already and even advertise this on their product’s packaging, the NHTSA says that there is no standard for which these tests are being performed, meaning that car seat might not be as safe as parents think or as manufacturers say.

It’s because of this incredible safety hazard that the NHTSA is suggesting that lawmakers upgrade existing federal regulations to account for side-impact crashes.  According to the NHTSA’s findings, implementing new crash-tests standards could prevent at least 64 injuries and five deaths per year.  And even though manufacturers would have three years after legislation is passed to comply with new regulations, the hope in the end is that safer car seats will be put on the market, preventing the risk of further child injuries down the road.

Source: The Wall Street Journal Market Watch, “The truth about child car seat safety claims,” Catey Hill, Jan. 24, 2014