If you were recently involved in a car accident and your child’s safety seat was in your vehicle at the time of the crash, you may be wondering whether it’s still safe to use.
The severity of your accident and the recommendations of the seat’s manufacturer are both factors you’ll want to evaluate when determining whether you’ll need to replace it.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the government agency tasked with preventing injuries, loss of life and economic costs resulting from motor vehicle accidents. In an effort to protect kids whose car seats have been impacted by crashes, the NHTSA has released guidelines concerning when it is and isn’t necessary to replace a safety seat after an accident.
The NHTSA recommends that child safety seats be replaced after they’ve been involved in moderate or severe auto accidents. This guidance applies regardless of whether a child was occupying the seat at the time of the crash or not. This guidance also applies regardless of whether the seat sustained damage in the crash or not.
In the event of a minor accident, the NHTSA advises drivers to check with their child’s safety seat manufacturer for assistance. Some manufacturers advise that their seats should be replaced after a minor accident, while others don’t. According to the NHTSA, a minor accident is defined as one in which:
- The door nearest the seat isn’t damaged
- The vehicle is driven (not towed) away from the crash site
- The car seat isn’t visibly damaged
- No one in the vehicle is injured
- The vehicle’s air bags have not deployed
The aftermath of a car accident can be disorienting. Carefully researching whether you need to replace your child’s safety seat is a relatively straightforward task that can help you to start feeling grounded again after all that you’ve been through.