What Parents Should Know About NHTSA's New Car Seat Guidelines

TTAC Staff
by TTAC Staff
Photo credit: TierneyMJ / Shutterstock.com

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has recently updated its regulations for child car seats, aiming to enhance the safety and usability of these essential devices.

Consumer Reports' Support for the New Standards

Consumer Reports (CR), a leading consumer advocacy group, has commended these new standards. Emily A. Thomas, PhD, from CR, has emphasized their role in addressing the unique safety challenges children face in modern vehicles. The improvements include:

  • A modernized test bench that reflects current vehicle seat designs.
  • New criteria and conditions for side impact tests.
  • Introduction of lap-and-shoulder belt tests, replacing the older lap-only belt tests.
  • Clear labeling of child weight requirements for different seat modes.
  • Use of test dummies that represent typical child weight ranges.
  • Stricter requirements for registering car seats to improve recall compliance.
  • New standards for child restraint systems in school buses.

The Role of Rigorous Testing

CR works on car seat safety by testing and rating over 100 car seat models. Their evaluations focus on crash safety, vehicle fit, and ease of use, assisting consumers in making informed decisions. Gabe Knight from CR highlights that these standards bolster confidence in car seat safety among parents and caregivers.

CR's Advanced Safety Protocols

CR's commitment to safety extends beyond federal standards. Their crash tests include real vehicle seats and higher energy impacts to better evaluate car seats. They also test car seats using lap-and-shoulder belts and evaluate new safety technologies like load legs. CR aims to exceed, not just meet, minimum safety standards.

Uniform Side-Impact Protection Standards

The NHTSA's updates are particularly notable for introducing standardized side-impact protection. This standardization ensures a consistent level of side-impact safety, as previously, manufacturers used different testing methods.

The Benefits for Consumers

Although some of NHTSA's changes might not be immediately evident, they are vital in ensuring car seats meet essential safety standards. These updates are crucial for reassuring parents and caregivers about the safety of car seats.

This article was co-written using AI and was then heavily edited and optimized by our editorial team.

TTAC Staff
TTAC Staff

More by TTAC Staff

Join the conversation
  • Jkross22 It very much depends on the dealer. Just bought a replacement for the CX9. A local dealer gave a $500 discount on a CPO car while another one gave a few thousand dollar discount but was out of the area and we had to drive 5 hours to get. The local dealer still seems to think it's 2022 and cars appreciate when sitting on the lot. I wish them luck.
  • Ajla "and the $34K price doesn't seem too steep." Respectfully disagree. This would be okay at $29K. $34k clangs into way too much.
  • FreedMike i puUut pUniZhR sTikKr oNn mY KoMMpAs aNd nOW i hEeR Eegle SkReem. (And no one knows it's made in Mexico.)
  • SCE to AUX What a farce.Besides, "patriotism" has been redefined a hundred different ways in the last 20+ years. Disagree with one of them, and you're a traitor.And for starters, Jeep is a Stellantis brand with its HQ in the Netherlands. If this persistent myth about patriotism is ever cracked, the brand is doomed.
  • MaintenanceCosts I'm definitely seeing more dealer-level discounts than I did a year ago, but not a lot of lower MSRPs.