The attorneys general of 17 states and the District of Columbia on Tuesday urged the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to adopt long-delayed side-impact standards for child car seats.
Congress first asked the agency to set the standards two decades ago. The states, led by New York and Connecticut, in a letter also urged the U.S. auto safety regulator to mandate that all car seat labels include guidance that every child should remain in car seats until exceeding maximum height or weight standards set by NHTSA.
“As a result of NHTSA’s inaction, there currently is no government standard for side-impact testing in the United States for any child restraint system,” the state attorneys general wrote.
NHTSA confirmed it plans to issue its final rules for side-impact performance requirements for child car seats by January 2022 “including a new side-impact test that uses the new side-impact crash test dummy that was finalized in 2020.”
The agency added it is “is also working to finalize two other important rules by early 2022 that would reduce early transitions to forward-facing car seats and boosters and would improve correct installation of car seats”
The agency “has a responsibility to adopt clear safety standards for child car seats, and, today, we are making clear that failure to act is unacceptable,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James.
In 2000, Congress directed NHTSA to start writing rules to improve “the safety of child restraints, including minimizing head injuries from side-impact collisions.”
In 2012, Congress gave NHTSA two years to adopt a final rule “to improve the protection of children seated in child restraint systems during side impact crashes.”
The agency last September proposed revising recommendations to increase the number of children age 1 or younger who are transported in rear-facing car seats.
NHTSA proposed recommending that all children 26.5 pounds (12 kg) or less be transported in rear-facing car seats rather than the existing recommendation for children 20 pounds (9 kg) or less.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Will Dunham, Chizu Nomiyama and Richard Pullin)