Products Liability Law Daily NHTSA rolls out several improvements to child passenger safety
Monday, September 28, 2020

NHTSA rolls out several improvements to child passenger safety

By Georgia D. Koutouzos, J.D.

New crash test dummy finalized and amendments to FMVSS Nos. 208 and 213 proposed.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced three initiatives aimed at improving the safety of child passengers in motor vehicles, including the addition of the first-ever crash test dummy that can assess the performance of child restraint systems in protecting small children in side impact crashes (NHTSA News Release, September 24, 2020).

Capping off Child Passenger Safety Week, September 20–26, 2020, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on September 24 issued a final rule that introduces a new crash test dummy—an instrumented dummy that represents a three-year-old child and can assess the performance of child restraint systems in protecting small children in side impacts. Adding the new dummy—known as the Q3s—to the agency’s regulation on anthropomorphic test devices (49 CFR Part 572) provides NHTSA with a new test device that can be used to improve side impact protection for children, the agency indicated.

The Q3s is the first child side impact dummy in federal regulations and specifically was designed for testing child seats in side impact crash tests. It will provide more realistic data about the effect that side impact crashes have on children. The Q3s weighs 14.5 kilograms (kg) (32.0 pounds), has a seated height of 556 millimeters (mm), and is representative of a 50th percentile three-year-old child. The Q3s dummy’s main parts (head, thorax, neck, shoulder, spine, abdomen, pelvis, and relevant instrumentation) and biofidelity were described in detail in a November 21, 2013 notice of proposed rulemaking, the agency said. For purposes of the final rule, the dummy’s only original source, Humanetics Innovative Solutions Inc. (HIS), removed all proprietary rights to the Q3s, including restrictions on their use in fabrication and in building computer simulation models of the dummy.

Other changes sought. In addition to the final rule, NHTSA is proposing numerous upgrades to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 213, Frontal Impact Tests for Child Restraint Systems, to make testing more representative of real-world child seat use in modern vehicles, including proposing to require that labels on child seats encourage that young children remain in rear-facing child seats until they outgrow the rear-facing height and weight limits of the seat. The Notice of Proposed Rule making (NPRM) also seeks public input on providing flexibilities for child seat labeling requirements that could better inform the public on the correct use of child restraint systems and allowing additional means for parents and care givers to register their child seats to receive recall information.

Finally, in a separate NPRM, the agency is seeking to amend Appendix A-1 of FMVSS No. 208, Occupant Crash Protection, to update the child restraint systems listed in the Appendix. The child seats listed in the Appendix are used by NHTSA to test air bag suppression or low-risk deployment systems in vehicles to ensure that they mitigate the risk of harm to children and infants. The Appendix was last updated in 2008, and many models are no longer available, NHTSA said, adding that updating the list will make it easier for vehicle manufacturers and test laboratories to acquire newer testing seats.

Comments on both proposals will be accepted for 60 days following their formal publication in the Federal Register.

MainStory: TopStory NHTSANews MotorVehiclesNews MotorEquipmentNews

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