Side impact collisions or T-Bone accidents are among the most dangerous car accidents for all passengers, but especially for children. The majority of car seats are tested for front-impact collisions and there is minimal testing to determine how car seats and child restraints protect children in side impact accidents.
An experienced T-Bone accident lawyer knows hundreds of children are killed or permanently injured while sitting in the backs of vehicles hit from the side. Steps should be taken to provide all possible protections for these vulnerable children, including increasing side-impact crash safety requirements for child seats in vehicles.
Improving Safety Requirements for Children in T-Bone Crashes
In 2009, 322 children under four were killed in motor vehicle collisions. Side-impact crashes are responsible for five child deaths and 60 child injuries annually. Among the children killed, 29 percent were not restrained at all while 55 percent (178 children) were in car seats and eight percent were restrained only by a standard vehicle seat belt. The restraint use for the remaining eight percent of children was not reported.
Children are safest when in child restraints, although using seat belts is safer than no restraints at all. Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine articles indicate parents are generally encouraged to put their child in the center seat of a vehicle to minimize side impact risks because the child is further from the point of impact.
Unlike a hood of a car, the side of a car has virtually no room to crumple and thus absorbs little of the force of the impact when the vehicle is struck. Children's safety depends upon side airbags to absorb some of the force and on child safety seats or restraints to keep them in place and protect them.
Car seat testing, however, is primarily aimed at determining how car seats hold up when a vehicle is hit from the front. Side impact or T-Bone collisions happen when one car is moving through an intersection and other car hits the first car from the side on its cross street. The striking vehicle sometimes hits the front side of the car, but often hits the side rear of the car where children in the back of the vehicle may be impacted by the force of the crash.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) may soon be imposing new requirements for crash testing for side impact accidents. Safe Rides 4 Kids states the new requirements will apply to safety seats designed for children under 40 pounds (which usually cover children up to four years of age).
Seats within this category will now be required to pass a test to ensure the seats are designed to reduce the force of the collision impact on the head, shoulder's and chest of the child. The test will be conducted with car seats mounted to specially-designed sleds, instead of installed inside vehicles, because the purpose is to learn how safe the car seats are and the tests should not be skewed by the safety of the vehicle they are in.