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New Changes to Child Car Seat Safety Regulations


Many families in Indiana have young children that require car safety seats. Recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed stricter child car seat safety regulations, instituting a new crash test that the seats must pass. This will hopefully reduce child deaths and injuries in car accidents.

Proposed Change in Child Car Seat Safety Regulations

NHTSA’s proposed change would create the first side impact testing for child car seats. Under the new rules, child car seats must demonstrate that the product can safely restrain a child in a side impact collision while preventing harmful head contact with the vehicle door and reducing the overall crash forces.

The rule uses a specifically designed sled test that simulates a T-bone crash when one vehicle traveling 30 mph strikes another vehicle traveling 15 mph. To pass the test, the seats must demonstrate they meet these safety requirements using both a 12-month-old dummy and 3-year-old child dummy.

The comment period for these new regulations closed on April 28th, 2014. After the NHTSA reviews the comments, it may incorporate changes into the rule and submit the rule to congress. If congress approves the rule, there will be a three-year period during which manufacturers can make changes to comply with the rules. NHTSA estimates that the rule will save five lives and prevent 64 injuries annually. 

Columbus, Indiana is home to the Dorel Juvenile Group that manufactures child car seats. The company says it already ensures its products pass its own side impact tests. Hopefully all manufacturers will be held to the same requirements soon.

Indiana’s Child Car Seat Laws

In Indiana, all children under the age of eight, or children too small to properly use a seat belt, must use a child restraint system according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When the child is under one and less than 20 pounds, he or she must use a rear-facing child car seat. Children over one and who weigh at least 20 pounds may use a forward facing seat with an internal harness system.

Parents and caregivers are encouraged to keep their children in rear-facing car seats for as long as possible. Some manufacturers make rear-facing child car seats with up to a 40 pound weight capacity. All children under the age of 12 years old must sit in the back seat of a vehicle as well.

How Child Car Seats Affect Your Legal Rights

In addition to putting their children at risk and the fines they face, parents who do not use a child car seat hurt their legal right to compensation after a car accident. Even if another driver caused the accident, he or she can argue that the parents failed to mitigate the child’s injuries by failing to provide an appropriate car seat.

This argument might reduce the overall amount of compensation the at-fault party owes to the claimant in an insurance claim.

Hensley Legal Group represents families of Indiana who are seeking legal compensation for damages after an Indiana car accident. Contact our office to discuss an accident and your child’s injuries.