For children who live in the U.S, auto accidents are a leading cause of both injury and death. To keep your child safe, it is important to use a size-appropriate car seat. After all, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 35% of children who died in car crashes in 2017 were not using a restraint. 

Car seats provide effective protection for children in certain height and weight categories. As such, you must replace your child’s car seat as he or she grows. You may also need to replace the car seat after a car accident, though. 

No automatic requirement 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration used to advise parents to replace child car seats after any type of accident. This recommendation covered even minor fender benders. This is no longer the case, however. Nowadays, the NHTSA suggests considering the severity of the accident when deciding whether to invest in a new child car seat. 

The minor accident test 

According to the NHTSA, parents should replace car seats after a moderate or severe collision. This means if you had a minor accident, it is probably safe to continue to use your child’s existing restraint system. Nonetheless, if you answer yes to any of the following questions, it is time to replace your child’s car seat: 

  • Do you see visible signs of damage on the car seat? 
  • Did anyone in the vehicle suffer an injury during the accident? 
  • Did you have to call a tow truck? 
  • Did your car’s airbags deploy? 
  • Did the car’s door closest to your child sustain damage? 

Buckling your child into a car seat is a good way to ensure he or she does not sustain a serious injury in an automobile accident. Following a car crash, though, your child’s car seat may no longer provide the same level of protection. As such, before you continue to use the seat, you must be certain it is safe to do so.