• Mar 18, 2011
Every parent does his or her best to keep their children safe. Car seats are a big part of that equation, and snapping our little cherubs into a five-point harness makes us feel like we've done our very best to care for our precious offspring. But are we really?

If you assume there's strict federal federal standards for child safety and booster seats to conform to, you might be surprised at just how little oversight there actually is. In fact, kids weighing more than 65 pounds – which means younger and younger kids as childhood obesity rates ratchet up – sit on boosters with no government safety standards. Seats for younger young'uns are only held to a front-end collision standard. The physics of a car crash act in different ways on the bodies of children than they do on their full-grown counterparts – kids are not simply scaled-down adults.

According to The Washington Post, part of the problem is that a crash-test dummy that mimics a child's physiology is far behind schedule. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was supposed to have a dummy ready by 2004 to simulate a 10-year-old, as part of Anton's Law, a bit of legislation that went into effect in 2002. That dummy is still not right, and that leaves child seat manufacturers to self-regulate their products and to recall reactively when problems crop up, instead of conforming to guidelines that protect all children in front, side, rear-end and rollover accidents.

[Source: The Washington Post | Image: U.S. Department of Transportation via CC 2.0]


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  • 17 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      that is why private companies should be doing the testing and not the ass backwards government
        • 3 Years Ago
        And pray tell who is going to pay for it? The private company wouldn't be doing the testing out the kindness of their heart, they would need a customer....which would probably be the federal government in the form of a fat contract.....which means the taxpayers would still be paying for it.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Crashing fails large children, not government regulations. We'd be better off teaching people how to drive properly. Spending millions upon millions of dollars to improve seat belts merely masks the source of the problem: people can't drive.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I thought I was a pretty courageous and strong person but that kid dummy on the right is going to give me nightmares.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Ah yes, the juvenile evil genius model... car seats aren't the issue with this one, the real challenge is to keep it from smothering its sibling dummies in the back seat.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Stop giving kids excess junk food and sodas.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Why does the common denominator always have to be tall people or fat people?
      cars are consistently getting bigger and bigger every generation that a 5'4" woman now can barely have a decent driving position.


      Most kids in america are not fat. A minority are.
        • 3 Years Ago
        one in three is less than two in three... so it's a minority, get it?
        • 3 Years Ago
        Minority or not, why should people that refuse to take care of themselves be catered to?
        • 3 Years Ago
        @ Jordan

        How is one in three a minority?!? That is a scary statistic!


        America has a serious problem andit is getting worse, not better. Maybe we should fix the source of the problem here. You don't see problems to this extent in europe, they are doing something right.
        • 3 Years Ago
        It makes sense to address this issue, because 1 in 3 kids are overweight or obese in America, and increasing. That said, the way to fix the problem is to fix the fact that kids are getting overweight, not to implement safety regulations around obese people.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Looks like the obese are finally going to suffer more consequences for their over-indulgences.

        Don't mock me either. I was obese (34 bmi @ 237lbs, now 26bmi @ 192lbs) and have worked hard to stay out of that disgusting range. If humans are going to over eat, so be it.
      • 3 Years Ago
      So now the complaint is that the 'government' is not specific enough about regulations that also accounts for childhood obesity. If parents were actually concerned about their child's safety, health or self esteem, they would stop feeding them so much junk that makes them obese at 10 years old in the first place.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Priorities, please. Let's fix the fact that your fat kid is fat instead of fixing his/her carseat.
        • 3 Years Ago
        What a misdirected point.. So the effort to make fat children SAFE is wrong because we should be focusing on them not being fat...? That's just silly, and a little bit mean spirited. Priorities please? let's make every child in America skinny before we decide to make more accommodating child seats regulated by the government? Should we just have an article on autoblog solely about the obesity epidemic because child seats are being made poorly? Ridiculous.
        • 3 Years Ago
        I agree, but that's not really the jurisdiction of the NHTSA.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Mean-spirited? You are right about that. But that's just the attention-grabbing aspect of my statement. I'm advocating for getting to the root of the problem instead of having a one-size-fits-all car seat to accommodate the 200lb toddler.

        Also important: every aspect of life does not need to be regulated by the government. Making sure that your child safe is your job, not the State's. This includes their diet. Or would you be more comfortable with setting up a regulatory body that will mandate how many Big Macs your child is allowed to consume per year?
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