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Side-impact the New Front for Child Safety

Side-impact the New Front for Child Safety

(NewsUSA)- Now that child safety-seat use has become virtually ever-present, the next challenge for improving child safety in passenger cars may be side-impact protection.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), child safety seats have saved more than 7,000 children's lives during the last 20 years, and 98 percent of America's infants and 89 percent of children ages 1 to 3 are now regularly restrained in child safety seats in passenger vehicles.
However, while significant progress has been made on improving the use and safety of child passenger seats, the federal agencies have lagged behind their European counterparts that require side-impact protection in addition to protection in frontal and rear collisions.
"We have been designing and building child seats to meet European side-impact protection standards since 1996," says Jonathan Sieber, RECARO North America Director of Sales and Marketing. "With a quarter of all accidents categorized as side-impacts, we feel it is a critical component for child safety, and we encourage NHTSA to consider rating side-impact protection."
Safety agencies, in particular, are paying a great deal of attention to side-impact protection for motor vehicles. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, more driver deaths now occur in cars struck in the side (51 percent) than in the front (44 percent) in crashes involving newer-model cars in collisions with other passenger vehicles. NHTSA recently announced more stringent standards that will require manufacturers to begin equipping all vehicles with improved protection in 2009 - to help address side-impact crashes that the agency says account for 28 percent of all fatalities.
However, federal safety standards for child-seats-only test seats in a simulated, 30-mile-per-hour frontal crash. Side-impact protection is not factored into the pass/fail test scores provided for child seats.
As a result, says Sieber, American consumers must search for models designed, tested and/or certified to European standards, or that offer side-impact protection that consumers can see, and feel.
"RECARO child seats look like race-car drivers' seats for a reason. Our side impact protection system is inspired by our motorsports background, with extra-large side wings and support for the head, legs and side. Our comfortable padding helps to keep children in a correct seating position and create a protective shell that helps cradle the child in a crash. In addition, consumers can feel the solid structure due to the extra structural support included to help protect the child in a side impact."

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