Along with practicing defensive driving, placing your child in an appropriate car or booster seat helps to prevent catastrophic injuries in a collision. Picking the right car seat initially is only part of the equation, however. If you have an accident, you may need to replace the seat before your next trip.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration advises parents to replace child car seats after moderate and severe accidents. Consequently, if your collision was minor, it may be safe to continue to use the car seat.
What constitutes a minor car accident?
A motor vehicle accident that may seem minor to one driver may appear quite serious to another. Fortunately, the NHTSA has some guidelines for what constitutes a minor car accident. If any of the following apply to your accident, the crash is not minor for purposes of replacing your child’s car seat:
• The accident makes your car undrivable
• The accident causes your car’s airbags to inflate
• The accident results in damage to the door closest to your child’s car seat
• The accident causes an injury to someone in your vehicle or another one
• The accident damages the car seat
Can you see damage to the car seat?
Even if your car accident appears to be minor, you should not continue to use your child’s car seat until you carefully inspect it for signs of damage. If the seat has cracks, tears, breaks, compressions or any other damage that may interfere with its ability to protect your child, you should not continue to use it.
Ultimately, you do not want to leave your child’s safety to chance. If you have any doubt about the integrity of a car or booster seat after a car accident, replacing the seat immediately is the responsible thing to do.