As all parents know, child car seats do a much better job at protecting children during automobile accidents than regular seat belts. Simply by placing your child in an age- and size-appropriate car seat, you reduce his or her chances of suffering a catastrophic injury in a car accident.
Provided you purchase a safety-rated car seat, you can probably depend on the seat to protect your child during a car accident. Nevertheless, you may wonder how effective your child’s car seat is after it has gone through a crash.
The severity of your accident matters
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it is unacceptable to continue to use a child car seat that has been through either a moderate or severe car accident. Moderate and severe car accidents have one or more of the following characteristics:
- The car is not drivable after the crash
- The car’s airbags inflate during the accident
- The car has visible damage on the side nearest to the child’s car seat
- Someone suffers an injury in the accident
You have other considerations to address
Determining whether your car accident was minor or severe is only part of the equation. If your child’s car seat’s manufacturer has guidelines for replacement after a crash, you should follow them. You also should closely inspect the car seat to determine if it has any visible signs of damage. If so, it is likely not safe to continue to use the car seat.
Ultimately, because it is impossible to put a price tag on either your child’s safety or your peace of mind, it is always advisable to replace any car seat you think may not provide comprehensive protection for your son or daughter.