The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has important guidelines regarding the re-use of child seats following car accidents. The problem that the NHTSA wants to address is the fact that parents who had been in minor car accidents were formerly being encouraged to throw out their car seats. This resulted in additional costs, and the possibility that children were going without car seats while the parents were waiting to buy new ones.
Specific Criteria for Re-Use
According to the NHTSA, research shows that car seats may be re-used following a minor accident as long as the accident meets five specific criteria. First, the vehicle needs to be drivable following the collision. Second, the door nearest the child seat has to remain undamaged. Third, no injuries to the vehicle's occupants may have occurred. Fourth, the airbags cannot have deployed. Fifth, the safety seat has to be undamaged.
Provided that the above criteria are met, the child safety seat may be re-used, according to the NHTSA. That said, if the car accident is categorized as serious or moderate, then the seat needs to be replaced and parents may not re-use it.
NHTSA Hopes to Save Parents Money
The NHTSA hopes that these guidelines will help parents bypass the financial hardship of buying a new car seat after a minor collision. It will also prevent situations where children are going without car seats when parents are driving to buy a new car seat and/or during the interim period between buying a new seat.
Fortunately, most car accidents are nothing more than a fender bender. However, even fender benders can become classified as severe accidents, especially if the occupants are not properly restrained. This is why child safety seats and adult safety belts are so important. They can easily mean the difference between life and death.
In the event that a serious injury occurs as the result of another driver's negligence, even if the injured person was unrestrained, the injured person may have a viable personal injury claim for financial damages in court.
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