Car accidents continue to kill and injure an alarming number of children each year. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle accidents were responsible for roughly 600 child fatalities and 63,000 injuries in 2020 alone. As a parent, these numbers should make you shudder.
Strapping your son or daughter into an age- and size-appropriate car seat or booster seat is one of the more effective things you can do to protect him or her. Still, after a car accident, your child’s car seat may no longer provide optimal protection.
How serious was your accident?
It may come as a surprise to you that it is usually acceptable to continue to use a car seat that has been in a minor motor vehicle crash. After accidents that are moderate or severe, though, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tells parents to replace car seats immediately.
So, how do you know whether your car accident is minor, moderate or severe? If any of the following is true, your car accident was a moderate or severe one:
- Your car is not driveable
- Your car’s airbags inflate
- Your car has damage to its side closest to where your child’s car seat is
- You or your passengers suffer an injury in the accident
Does the car seat have any visible signs of damage?
While determining the severity of your accident can be instructive, you have some additional work to do. Specifically, you must closely inspect your child’s car seat for visible signs of damage. These may include cracks, tears, bends, missing parts or anything else.
Ultimately, if your child’s car seat or booster seat shows evidence of damage, you should replace it before transporting your son or daughter anywhere.