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Are You Ready for New Car Seat Laws?: 8 Things You Should Know

By Tiffany Forte

What’s one of the most important things on a baby shower registry? Many people will say that it’s a child’s car seat. And though we trust manufacturers to make our products extra safe, did you know that all companies aren’t required to do side-impact crash tests?

That’s going to change with new federal regulations from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Seats will have to be able to withstand side-impact crashes of up to 30 miles per hour for children of up to 40 pounds.

This would prevent five deaths and 64 injuries each year since a quarter of all car accidents are side-impact collisions. Tests would use 1-year-old and 3-year-old child dummies and simulate a T-bone crash, with one car moving at 15 miles an hour with an oncoming car moving at 30 miles per hour slamming into the side door.

Once a ruling is finalized, companies will have three years to comply. However, what about the here and now? Right now some claims of “side-impact protection” only mean extra padding near the head area of a seat or there could be inconsistent testing where a car seat is only placed on the left side of a car and the impact happens on the right side instead of having the car seat tested on both sides.

So how do you know which car seats follow these rules already? Compare different car seats by checking the companies’ websites and calling the manufacturers for more information. Car-seat manufacturer Evenflo has been doing side-impact testing since 2008 following the speed protocol of the NHTSA. Their top-rated seats include the Symphony All in One and the Triumph Convertible.

It’s also important to buy the car seat that best fits your child’s size and to install it properly. Lastly, place the car seat in the center of the rear seat to limit side-impact injury. Ultimately, car seats are better than no car seats, so in the mean time, make your educated choice and buckle ‘em up!

For more information and to join the conversation, visit nhtsa.gov.

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