The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has changed its guidelines regarding children and booster seats. In addition, it announced the successful development of a new, child sized crash test dummy that can hopefully be used to reduce child injuries through a greater understanding of children and car accidents. The latest developments are just a few of the efforts undertaken by the NHTSA to improve transportation safety in the United States.
Booster seats are an important safety feature for children. They help span the gap between when a child has outgrown a child’s car seat and when the child is big enough to use an adult seat belt. The old guideline indicated that children should use booster seats until the age of 8 or until the child reaches 4 feet, 9 inches in height. The amended guidelines indicate that children should be restrained by a booster seat until they have exceeded 80 pounds.
The new crash test dummy will help expand the safety testing regarding children near that upper weight limit. Weighing in at 78 pounds, the dummy is supposed to roughly approximate a 10-year-old child. It joins a family of crash test dummies, including a model representing a newborn infant, a 12-month-old, a 3-year-old, and two models representing 6-year-olds. This new model will help researchers understand how booster seats and adult seat belts perform for children at the transition point. The makers of higher weight car seats and booster seats have a two-year period in which to get their products in line with safety guidelines.
Car crashes are the number one cause of death for children between the ages of 3 and 14. Car seats and booster seats play a vital role in helping children survive a serious car accident. The new NHTSA guidelines should help parents and safety device manufacturers understand what needs to be done to prevent serious child injuries in car wrecks.