Let’s look at what the National Highway Traffic and Safety Association has to say. This federal governmental agency oversees the policies on child passenger restraints, and they base their decisions on scientific data. At one time they stated that any car seat that was in an accident needed to be replaced. Since that time, NHTSA has revisited that policy.
The clarified policy recommends that all child passenger restraint seats involved in “moderate to severe crashes” should be replaced in order to ensure the highest level of protection for the child. This allows for a bit of judgment on your part.
So what makes it a minor accident? When can you keep your current car seat? You should ask these questions. If you can say “yes” to all of these question, NHTSA would say you could keep using the seat.
- Was the car able to be driven away from the accident safely?
- Was the area nearest the safety seat undamaged?
- Were all occupants of the vehicle uninjured?
- Did the air bags remain intact?
- Is there no visible damage to the car seat?
The reason they made these changes is has to do with what studies and science have revealed about what happens to car seats in minor vehicle accidents. Basically, they are saying that seats in minor accidents continue to meet federal standards for performance.