Kids in Sarasota deserve to have child restraint systems that are effective at protecting them. Unfortunately, up until 2014, there were no specific federal requirements related to crash testing performed to see how children’s car seats would do when a side-impact accident happened. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finally proposed crash testing on this important issue in 2014, but provided car seat manufacturers would have three years to respond to test results and make improvements.
As NHTSA and car seat makers delay in ensuring child restraint systems protect kids in T-bone accidents, children are routinely suffering severe injuries and fatalities every year when the car they are riding in is struck from the side. In fact, T-bone or side impact collisions are the most dangerous type of accidents for child passengers.
T-Bone Accidents Cause Significant Injury Risks to Children
Association for Advancement of Automotive Medicine published a study on risks to children in side-impact accidents. The study found children between the ages of five and nine had much higher Maximum Abbreviated Injury Scores in side impact crashes on average, as compared with kids in other types of crashes.
Maximum Abbreviated Injury Score (MAIS scores) classify the severity of injuries sustained in an auto accident. The scale ranges from one to nine, with one the lowest severity and nine the most severe injuries.
For children in side-impact accidents, 41 percent has an MAIS score of two or greater. A score of two reflects an injury of moderate severity. For front-impact crashes, only 15 percent of children sustained an MAIS score of two or greater.
When calculating MAIS scores of children who are buckled up at the time of the accident, the disparity is even greater. Thirty percent of children with an MAIS score of three or higher were buckled up at the time of the side impact accident which caused the serious injuries. By comparison, only 17 percent of children in other accidents with an MAIS of three were buckled up.
This means kids being buckled is not as effective at protecting them from serious injuries in side impact crashes as in other crash types. Hopefully, once restraint systems are subject to more rigorous crash testing involving simulated side impact accidents, the restraint systems will become better able to prevent serious side-impact crash injury among children.
When children sustain serious injuries, the damage they endure is likely to affect one of three primary parts of the body. One study of side-impact crashes found 23 percent of children in total experienced clinically significant injuries.
Of the injured children, 39 percent suffered injury to the head and 22 percent experienced injuries to one of their extremities. Another 17 percent of the injured children sustained injury to the abdomen.
Car seats and child restraint systems should focus on preventing a child’s head from coming in contact with the vehicle door and should focus on reducing crash force which goes to a child’s chest and head in order to bring injury and fatality rates down.