Tag Archives: NHTSA

Crash Test Dummies Failed the Test!

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration says it will hold off on some proposed car seat regulations until the dummies which are used in crash tests can better “mimic real children.”[1] Problems with the crash dummies have caused NHTSA to propose some regs for children over 65 lbs. which leaves a whole lot of children under 65 lbs. somewhat in the lurch. In essence, this means federal regulations for automobile booster/car seats do not accurately protect our children.

What made the dummies fail?  According to the NHTSA, the dummy’s neck is too stiff to really recreate accurately the kind of response a child’s neck would have to a crash–this would “skew the amount of crash force the child’s head would experience” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crash-test-dummy-doesnt-make-the-grade/2011/03/13/AB81rNU_graphic.html ) in the crash tests. And the dummy’s body is too straight and apparently too stiff to react as a child’s would in crash circumstances. Also according to the NHTSA, there are differences in the friction that would occur on a live child, between the seatbelt and the child’s clothed chest, and the friction between the seatbelt and the clothed chest of the dummy and they do not accurately mimic those which would exist for those of a live child–and these differences could cause a variance in the response (body-to-seatbelt) that would render the tests inaccurate or considered not a good simulation.  In addition, the results of seatbelt fit measurements on a dummy as compared with a child could vary too much to be considered reliable.

In the opinion of Katherine Shaver of The Washington Post, “That’s because the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has yet to develop a lifelike child crash test dummy that can accurately ensure that seats for heavier children provide the protections promised. …Problems with developing child dummies are also a key reason why seats for all children have no federal requirements for effectiveness in side-impact, rear-end and rollover collisions, car seat experts said.”  http://mobile.washingtonpost.com/c.jsp?item=http%3a%2f%2fwww.washingtonpost.com%2flocal%2finadequacy-of-crash-test-dummies-leaves-many-child-safety-seats-with-no-federal-standards%2f2011%2f03%2f01%2fABBfaCU_mobile.xml&cid=578815

This blogger would like to know where the current dummy was manufactured?  China?  Somebody, call Vince and Larry… they’d know what to do!


[1] The Washington Post, March 13, 2011, “Crash Dummy Doesn’t Make the Grade”,

Technology Could Rescue Children in Hot Cars!

In the realm of facts that are really hard to digest, we find that the number of deaths from children being left in cars and subsequently suffering and expiring from hyperthermia remains fairly constant, despite frequent warnings provided by the media.

The University of San Francisco’s Department of GeoSciences maintains a statistical chart of the number of deaths per month of young children left in cars due to hyperthermia (heat stroke). Demonstrations by various SafeKids USA (national organization whose mission is to reduce and prevent childhood injuries and deaths) chapters have shown cookies can be baked on a dashboard and a child can expire in less than 15 minutes from having been left in a hot car!

A study published in the medical journal, Pediatrics, illustrates the statistics below:

“To date there have been twenty-eight deaths in 2010 of children due to hyperthermia (heat stroke) from being in hot vehicles.  Last year there were a total of at least 33 such fatalities in the United States due to hyperthermia after they were left in hot cars, trucks, vans and SUV’s.  Since 1998 there have been at least a total of 473 of these needless tragedies.  This study shows that these incidents can occur on days with relatively mild (i.e., ~ 70 degrees F) temperatures and that vehicles can reach life-threatening temperatures very rapidly.”

This morning, we learned from viewing an NBC news clip featuring safety expert Janette Fennel that sensor technology has been developed to alert parent and caregiver drivers that there is still a child or children in the car seat(s) in the car after the driver (parent or caregiver) has shut the car doors and walked away from the car.  If the driver bearing that sensor (which can be toted like a key fob) proceeds approximately 30-40 feet from the car, the sensor causes the key fob to beep loudly to warn the driver that there is still a child or children in the booster seat in the car.

According to NBC News Channel 29 (Charlottesville, Va.), General Motors Corporation and Volvo are more than aware of the sensor technology, but have not been successful gaining approval from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to market the car seat sensor, and apparently the technology is so developed that even National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) is involved in helping to improve the technology.  NHTSA, however, believes that the technology is not ready and its Administrator, David Strickland, has stated that parents must continue to “remain vigilant.”

Childsafetyblog.org is aghast: The NHTSA’s response is not responsive or adequate.  Could the 28 children who died in hot cars this year have been saved?

Another Installment About Child Safety Seats

Couldn’t resist the pun in the title.  So we’re talking again about child safety seats.  Why? Because they’re really important.  There are few things that a parent or caregiver can do to keep a child safe that are more effective than placing that child in a properly installed child safety seat.  For earlier posts about child seats and how they work, you can go here and here.

A lot of progress has been made in reducing deaths and injuries to children by publicizing the correct use of child safety seats, booster seats and safety belts.  But we can do more.  We appreciate the time and attention the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and others advocating for child passenger safety have devoted to this important cause, but more work needs to be done to protect children who ride in cars in safety seats.

The NHTSA says 3 out of 4 car seats are not properly used or installed and that 3 out of every 4 children in child safety seats are not properly secured, or are not restrained at all.

As a parent, do you know how to use the Safety Seat correctly?  Some parents are not sure how to install their child’s safety seat properly. It’s important for parents to know that not every seat fits every car.  Also, some parents don’t know their vehicle (if manufactured after September 2002) is required to be equipped with the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) system.

NHTSA says, “LATCH makes it easier to get the child seat in right.”  And NHTSA has several video demonstrations on their website (with instructions in both English and Spanish) which you can view!  Go here to view.

We know as a parent or caregiver, you want to protect your children the best way possible, and using the LATCH system is one way to help.

Another way is to learn which kind of seat is best and safest to use for your children: NHTSA says, “for infants (from birth to at least 1 year old or at least 20 pounds), the best possible protection is to place them in the back seat, in rear-facing child safety seats.”

When children outgrow rear-facing seats (when they are older than one year old and weigh more than 20 pounds), they should ride in forward-facing child safety seats, still in the back seat, until they reach an upper weight or height limit of the particular seat (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds).

Always check the child safety seat instruction manual of the brand of child safety seat you have. Every safety seat manufacturer provides specific instructions to the proper installation and use of their brand of child safety seat.

Finally, if as a parent or caregiver you are still not sure whether your child safety seat is properly installed, you can take your vehicle to a Child Safety Seat Inspection Station.  If you need help locating a child safety seat inspection station near you, you can call the NHTSA at 1-888-327-4236 (Vehicle Safety Hotline) or you can jump to this link.  Enter your zip code or state, and a list of child safety seat inspection stations in your area or state will be displayed.  Some stations have bilingual speakers and some stations inspect by appointment only.  You may want to call ahead!

With grateful thanks to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

To write NHTSA and obtain more information on Child Safety Seats, please contact them at:

NHTSA Headquarters
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
West Building
Washington, DC 20590