legal blog

Side Impact Tests for Car Seats

Written by Jared Staver

Read Jared's Bio

Jared Staver is a Personal Injury Lawyer based in Chicago, Illinois and has been practicing law for over 20 years.

Jared Staver

CATEGORY: Auto Accidents, Personal Injury


According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 42 percent of all car accident fatalities of children under 8 years old occur because of side-impact collisions, yet it only has proposed new side-impact test regulations for car seats in the past year, due to complications in determining the best ways to prevent injury during these crashes. The proposed upgrades to the federal motor vehicle safety standard for child-restraint systems will hopefully ensure that young car passengers are better protected in these dangerous “t-bone” crashes.

These new regulations require thorough side impact tests for car seats that are sold in the U.S. and designed for children weighing up to 40 pounds. Each test would use a dummy simulating a 12-month-old and a 3-year-old child to make sure that the car seats prevent harmful head contact with an intruding vehicle door and reduce crash forces transmitted to the head and chest during side-impact collisions.

Car seat manufacturers will not be forced to comply with these newly finalized regulations in 2015, but most new models are already undergoing the required testing as manufacturers prepare to meet federal guidelines. While the NHTSA believes that most car seats already should pass the tests, some car seats will require adjustments.

How to Ensure Your Children Will Be Safe in the Event of a Side-Impact Crash

As the NHTSA begins to implement the new car seat standards for side impact crash safety, there are still several things that you can do to ensure that your children are as safe as possible.

  • Take manufacturer marketing language about side-impact testing with a grain of salt. Currently, manufacturers’ marketing claims about side-impact collision protection are not always comparable, since each manufacturer may still test differently. These differences don’t reflect the car seat’s performance on a standardized test unless they have changed procedures in recent months. Look for companies that have switched over to the proposed test by the NHTSA for the most trustworthy results.
  • Consider upgrading car seats that are a few years old. The science keeping your child safe in side-impact crashes has changed a lot in the last few years. This means that although old seats may comply with all current regulations, they may not live up to the new safety rules. Think about purchasing a new seat that has already been tested using the new regulations and passed.
  • Make sure that your car seat is properly installed. All your efforts to choose a safe car seat will be in vain if the seat is improperly installed. Unfortunately, over two-thirds of car seats are not used correctly. You can get your child’s car seat inspected at special check-up events hosted by Safe Kids and other organizations to ensure that you always use your seat correctly.

By taking these few small actions, you are better keeping your children safe.

Until the test is fully implemented by the NHTSA, some inconsistencies of car seat protection during side-impact crashes will be inevitable, but every car seat still must have a minimal amount of protection. If you get into a side impact crash and your child is injured due to a faulty car seat, you deserve compensation. Contact us at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. at (312) 236-2900 for a free consultation with a lawyer to find out how we can help.

Free Consultation
(312) 236-2900
(312) 236-2900
Skip to content