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The use of car seats and appropriate restraints for children has a significant positive impact on saving young lives. New York Times reports 3,308 children involved in collisions in 2009 when they were under four years old are alive today because the children were in child safety seats.

An experienced T-Bone accident lawyer knows child safety seats do a better job preventing deaths and serious injuries in head-on crashes than when a child is involved in a broadside collision. Side-impact collisions have very different physics from head-on crashes because the force of the impact is focused on the side of a car, which is very thin, compared with a front end that can crumple and absorb impact.

Also known as intersection collisions, T-Bone crashes get their name because the two cars form the shape of a T, with a car going straight being hit in the side by another vehicle from a cross street. While car seats have been carefully tested to protect children in head-on accidents, there are few effective crash test mandates to help assess whether car seats are keeping kids safe when a vehicle is hit from the side.

Children Face Injuries in T-Bone Crashes and Car Seats May Not Help

Safe Rides 4 Kids reported efforts by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to improve car seat effectiveness in side impact or T-Bone accidents. NHTSA has put forth a new proposed rule for crash testing car seats. The car seats will be tested while on specially-designed sleds instead of in vehicles in order to ensure the tests measure the performance of the safety seats and are not skewed by the effectiveness of side air bags or other safety features of a vehicle.

The purpose of the test is to assess whether the safety seats minimize the risk of injuries to the child’s head, shoulders, and chest. The focus of new testing requirements is child safety seats designed for children weighing 40 pounds or less. This usually covers children up to four years of age.

Each year, an average of five children under four are killed in side impact accidents and another 60 are injured. When car seats are tested and designed to reduce risks to children in T-Bone accidents, injury and death rates will decline.

Parents can also take certain other steps to reduce the risk a child will be seriously hurt if a vehicle is hit from the side. Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine cautions: “the outboard location directly behind the driver or passenger seat is more vulnerable if one side is hit because of its proximity to the point of impact.” Parents should strongly consider putting children in the center of the back seat in an age and weight-appropriate child restraint to minimize potential consequences if a T-Bone collision happens.

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