NHTSA faces pressure to take stronger measures to improve child car seat safety standards

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is facing pressure from New York Attorney General Letitia James and a coalition of 18 attorneys general to strengthen child car seat safety standards.

In a letter sent to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and NHTSA, the federal agency within the DOT, James and the coalition of attorneys general are urging the "NHTSA to expeditiously create and implement side-impact standards for child car seats."  


"We are concerned about NHTSA’s failure to implement such standards, despite a mandate to do so from Congress over 20 years ago," the letter reads. "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." 

Failure to implement such standards, "unnecessarily endangers children on the road and does a huge disservice to families," the letter continues. 

Representatives for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did not immediately return FOX Business' request for comment. 

A mother fastening her baby in a car seat. (iStock)

Additionally, the coalition is also asking the federal agency to mandate that child car seat labels explicitly state that children should remain in their car seat until exceeding its height or weight maximum.

"Adding this guidance to child car seats and the boxes they come in will decrease parent confusion about when to graduate a child to the next seat or stage," the letter continues. "It will, thereby, encourage use of size-appropriate car seats for a longer period of time, increase the safety of child passengers, and lessen the likelihood of serious injury. " 


According to the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James, Congress called on the NHTSA to adopt side-impact standards for child car seats two decades ago. However, "most manufacturers do, however, conduct their own side-impact testing — and often advertise those efforts prominently," according to James' office. 

Still, the "National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a responsibility to adopt clear safety standards for child car seats," James said in a statement. "We are making clear that failure to act is unacceptable. Our children cannot afford to wait another 20 years for these basic, sensible safety standards." 

To date, motor vehicle crashes remain the "leading cause of death for children aged 1 to 13," according to the letter.

"Since their introduction in the 1970s, child car seats have significantly reduced the risk of injury to children, and numerous technological advances have made them safer over the years," the letter continues. 

Although James and the coalition of attorneys general credits the NHTSA for this success, "the data shows, there is still room for improvement." 

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