Even though child mortality rates have decreased in recent decades, motor vehicle accidents remain a leading cause of death for those under the age of 18. Sadly, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, about 33% of children who die in car crashes are not using a weight- and height-appropriate car seat.
Buying the right car seat for your child is only part of your overall safety strategy. After a car accident, you must be certain the car seat is still safe to use. If it is not, you must purchase a new car seat before transporting your son or daughter anywhere.
Only continue to use car seats after minor crashes
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asks parents to replace child car seats after moderate or severe car accidents. Stated differently, it is only acceptable to continue to use a car seat after a minor collision.
For your collision to be minor, all the following must be true:
- Your car is still drivable
- Your car’s airbags do not inflate
- Your car’s door nearest to the child’s car seat sustains no damage
- You, your child and your other passengers escape the accident without any injuries
Carefully inspect the car seat for damage
Even if your accident meets all the criteria for a minor accident, you must carefully inspect the car seat for any visible signs of damage. When conducting your inspection, look for cracks, buckle damage, anchor weakening, padding compression and anything else that may make the seat unsafe.
While you may have a great deal on your plate after a car accident, your child’s safety must be your paramount concern. Ultimately, if you have lingering doubts about whether a car seat is safe, opting for replacement is likely to put your mind at ease.