DOT proposes new child car seat regulations

The Transportation Department on Wednesday unveiled draft regulations designed to protect small children in “T-bone” car crashes.

The proposal from the department’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) would for the first time require side-impact testing for car seats sold in the United States.

“We all want to make sure our children’s car seats are as safe as possible, and today’s proposal will give parents and car seat makers important new data on how car seats perform in side crashes,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a written statement.

The plan calls for testing to simulate side-impact collisions and would require car seats to protect children weighing up to 40 pounds from being crushed by buckling vehicle doors.

If enacted, the new regulations would save five lives and prevent 64 injuries annually, according to NHTSA estimates.

A notice of proposed rule-making (available here) to be published in the Federal Register calls for implementation of a new sled test simulating a traffic crash in which a car moving 30 miles an hour slams into the side of a vehicle traveling half that speed.

The test would also incorporate a newly developed crash-test dummy replicating a 3-year-old child, in addition to the 12-year-old version currently in use.

Once the notice is published, members of the public and interested parties will have 90 days to weigh in before the agency issues draft language.