The Wednesday's proposal by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would upgrade standards for child seats for children weighing up to 18 kgs to include a new test that simulates a side crash. (Agencies)
The agency estimates the standards will prevent the deaths of about five children and injuries to 64 others each year.
"Car seats are an essential tool for keeping young children safe in vehicles, and they have a proven track record of saving lives," NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman told a gathering of automotive engineers.
Under the proposal, the new tests will simulate a "T-bone" crash, where the front of a vehicle traveling 50 kph strikes the side of a small passenger vehicle traveling at 25 kph.
The tests will position the car seat on a sled, with another sled ramming the side of the sled with the seat, rather than using actual vehicles since the aim isn't to test the crash worthiness of specific vehicles, NHTSA officials said.
Research shows that many child deaths and injuries in side-impact crashes involve a car carrying children that is stopped at an intersection, usually at a light or stop sign, officials said. When the car begins to accelerate to go through the intersection, it is struck in the side by a vehicle traveling at a higher rate of speed on the cross street.
The side-impact test, the first of its kind, simulates both the acceleration of the struck vehicle and the vehicle's door crushing inward toward the car seat.
Besides using a 12-month-old child dummy already approved under NHTSA standards, the proposed test will also utilize a to-be-developed side-impact dummy representing a 3-year-old child.
The proposal includes giving car seat manufacturers three years to make any adjustments to meet the new requirements. That window doesn't begin until the regulations are made final.
The Wednesday's proposal by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would upgrade standards for child seats for children weighing up to 18 kgs to include a new test that simulates a side crash.