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NHTSA Improves Child Safety Seat Testing Standards with Final Rule on Side Impact Protection

Establishes requirement for first-of-its-kind side impact test

| Washington, DC

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a final rule today that updates testing requirements for child safety seats to improve the protection of children during side-impact crashes. The rule is a major advance in protecting children from serious injury in traffic crashes. 

“Side-impact collisions cause serious injuries and deaths in young children each year,” said Dr. Steven Cliff, NHTSA Administrator. “By establishing more comprehensive testing requirements, we are advancing child passenger safety and assuring parents that the safety seat they choose for their child must meet the highest safety standards.”

This final rule amends Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 213, “Child restraint systems,” by adding side impact performance requirements for child safety seats. The current standard requires child seats to meet performance criteria in a test simulating a 30-mph frontal impact. The final rule establishes a side impact test that replicates a 30-mph side collision, commonly known as a T-bone crash. 

The test relies on a sliding vehicle seat mounted on rails, known as a sled, and a vehicle door mounted on the sled to resemble the vehicle and simulates what happens to a child and child seat in a T-bone crash. Child seats will be evaluated using the newly developed Q3s side impact test dummy representing a 3-year-old child along with the well-established CRABI 12-month-old child test dummy.

The Biden-Harris Administration is dedicated to improving safety on our nation’s roads. Under their leadership, NHTSA is working expeditiously to issue rules that will improve safety. These updates fulfill a statutory mandate set forth in the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act” (MAP-21) that directed NHTSA to issue a final rule to improve the protection of children seated in child safety seats during side impacts.

Please click here to learn more about the rulemaking process.

NHTSA 202-366-9550