Even though modern cars, trucks and SUVs have hundreds of safety features, car accidents continue to be a primary cause of death for those under the age of 18. In fact, according to America’s Health Rankings, motor vehicle accidents are responsible for roughly 20% of all child fatalities in the U.S.
Securing your child in a size-appropriate car seat before backing out of your driveway is something you always do. Still, if your child’s car seat sustains damage in a car accident, it simply may not have what it takes to protect your most valuable cargo.
When to replace your child’s car seat
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recognizes the stress car accidents can cause parents. To help you know when to replace your child’s car seat after a wreck, the NHTSA asks you to consider whether your accident was a minor one.
Indeed, it is probably perfectly safe to continue to use your child’s car seat after a minor accident. For your accident to be minor, though, each of the following must be true:
- Your car is driveable after the wreck
- Your car has no damage to the side closest to your child’s car seat
- Your car’s airbags do not deploy
- You and your passengers escape from the accident with no injuries
How to look for damage
Even if your car accident meets the NHTSA’s definition of “minor,” you must take a close look at the car seat to see if it has any visible evidence of damage. If you notice cracks, tears or stress fractures during your inspection, you should replace your child’s car seat immediately.
Ultimately, while replacing a damaged car seat can be expensive, it is impossible to put a price tag on your child’s safety.