Q: Do I need to replace my child’s car seat after we were involved in an accident?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been hard at work promoting the proper use of car seats, and for good reason. A report done by the agency discovered that three out of four car seats are being used improperly, and with car accidents being the leading cause of death for children between the ages of one and thirteen years of age, it is critical that car seat use be addressed and improved.
One of the concerns the NHTSA has focused on is the use of car seats after they have been involved in an auto accident. Of course, when a car seat has sustained visible damage in a crash, it is easy to know that it needs to be replaced. Most of the time, however, the signs are not as clear.
When to Replace Your Child’s Car Seat After a Crash
The NHTSA has found that car seats are fine to return to service following a minor crash, as long as all five of the following can be confirmed:
- The car seat did not sustain visible damage
- The car was able to be driven away from the crash
- The door closest to the car seat did not sustain damage
- The vehicle’s airbags did not deploy
- None of the passengers in the vehicle were injured
In more serious accidents, or if one of the previous situations did occur, the car seat should be replaced immediately prior to driving with your child again. For more information about car seat guidelines and safety tips, visit the NHTSA’s website dedicated to child car safety.
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