Feds delay safety rule for child car seats

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is hitting the brakes on new rules intended to protect children involved in car accidents, the agency announced Tuesday.

The agency said it is reopening the comment period on rules that would ensure that child safety seats can withstand side collisions from other cars. These child restraint systems are designed to protect young children who weigh less than 40 pounds in the event of a car accident.

The comment period for the side-collision rules closed on April 28, but the agency is restarting the clock for another four months to give industry groups more time to comment. The move was made at the request of the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association.

The agency’s new standards, which were proposed in January, are intended to ensure that the safety seats can restrain children during a side collision, prevent head contact with other vehicles, and reduce the crash forces to a child's head and chest.

The NHTSA already requires manufacturers to test child seats for head-on collisions at a speed of 30 miles per hour, but wants to create new testing requirements for side collisions.

"Frontal and side crashes account for most child occupant fatalities," the agency wrote in the Federal Register.

The tests would include two test dummies, one representing a 3-year-old child and another representing a 12-month-old child.