Two weeks ago we provided you with information on how to purchase an appropriate car safety seat for your children. Now, we are taking it one step further and including critical information on what to do in the unfortunate but common event of an accident with a car seat in the vehicle (whether occupied or not at the time of the accident). Fortunately, there are excellent federal guidelines to help you make an informed and optimum decision.


We are pleased to report that with the constant research and improvement in the quality of today’s seats, recommendations were recently reassessed and modified after considerable investigation. It was concluded that child safety seats do not automatically need to be replaced following a minor crash.  Statistically, the majority of crashes are of minor impact and guidance was needed to better assist in determining what warrants child seat replacement. The additional research was also necessitated interestingly in part because authorities rather alarmingly found that after an accident, many drivers were simply discarding car seats unnecessarily. The seats were still absolutely sound and functional and due to the financial burden of replacing them, many were not doing so immediately, posing enormous risk to children.

It was determined that most child car seats were indeed quite robust and under specific circumstances should be fully safe and operational despite involvement in a crash. These conclusions were established after rigorous studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). If the accident was deemed to be a “minor crash”, future performance of the seat would not be affected or diminished. However, please note though that a car seat can be rendered unsafe even though no child was in the seat at the time of the accident! A crash is considered minor only if it fully meets the following criteria:

  • You were able to drive your car away from the scene of the crash.
  • The vehicle door closest to the child safety seat was not damaged.
  • There were no injuries to any of the occupants of your vehicle.
  • The vehicle’s air bags did not deploy.
  • There is no visible damage to the car safety seat itself. However, if there is any doubt that damage exists, you are advised to take the car seat to an authorized inspection station for free advice and these are listed on the NHTSA’s website.

One thing to bear in mind are that many insurance companies will cover the cost of a replacement seat, especially if fault is found with the “other” driver. It is also most critical to note that before discarding a damaged car seat, one must completely sever the straps so that it can never be re-used by another motorist.

We further hope that anyone who uses a child safety seat is familiar with LATCH systems. The Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) became standard in many vehicles manufactured after September 1, 2002. These are built-in anchors designed specifically to hold and anchor safety seats and fit together much like a key in a lock. They eliminate the need to use a seat belt to secure a safety seat, prevent a loose fit and allow the upper tether to reduce the tilting or rotation of the seat during a head-on collision. Owner’s manuals will indicate whether a car is LATCH-equipped or not but needless to say, it is highly recommended.

For further safety information please click over to the NHTSA’s website at


We hope you enjoyed this post. If there is anything else we can do to help you feel free to call us at (805) 466-2446 (Atascadero) or (805) 239-8752 (Paso Robles). And be sure to stay connected with us on Facebook as well!