NY attorney general calls on federal regulators to improve car seat safety

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ALBANY, N.Y. (WHEC) — New York Attorney General Letitia James is joining other attorneys general in calling on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to take stronger measures to protect children in car seats.

The coalition’s letter to the NHTSA and U.S. Department of Transportation calls for the implementation of side-impact testing standards.

“There haven’t been many updates to the federal motor vehicle safety standards for safety, so right now, it would be great to catch up to technology,” Jean Triest with Monroe County Office of Traffic Safety said.

Triest said it’s been a 20-year delay after Congress first called for the updates back in 2000, but it never happened.

“Right now, the only testing the U.S. has is that they test a car seat on a forward-facing bench seat, so it’s not even tested on a vehicle seat,” Triest said.

"The manufacturers make the car seats are conducting these tests on their own, and it’s hard for the consumer to understand what the standards are because there are no such standards that came from NHTSA,” AAA of Western New York driver training manager Mike Formanowicz said.

The coalition is also urging the placement of proper labels on car seats with guidance that says every kid should stay in their seat until they exceed their maximum height or weight for the seat.

"I know it’s tempting, especially if you see studies where they say, ‘hey, here’s a new car seat, and the advantage is this, and the advantage is that,’ but you don’t want to put your child in a seat that’s not properly manufactured for them,” Formanowicz said.

They are also reminding parents to do their research first to get you and your child safe on the roads.

“Most collisions or crashes happen close to home, so just even thinking about well, just because we are going on a long trip, we have to make sure our child is safer, our child should be using that car seat and using it properly every day,” Triest said.

In a statement to News10NBC, a NHTSA spokesperson said

“A properly installed, the age-and-size appropriate car seat is the best tool we have to protect children in a crash. NHTSA recently announced plans to finalize three important rules to improve car seat safety, installation, and testing. Notably, NHTSA plans to issue a final rule by January 2022 for side-impact performance requirements for child car seats, including a new side-impact test that uses the new side-impact crash test dummy that was finalized in 2020. NHTSA is also working to finalize two other important rules by early 2022 that would reduce early transitions to forward-facing car seats and boosters and would improve the correct installation of car seats. We appreciate the interest of the attorneys general in this critical issue and look forward to finalizing these critical child passenger safety regulations.”


Whether you’ve just installed a car seat, or need some guidance on how to do it properly, there is help out there.

Certified technicians will inspect your car seat free of charge, in most cases, and show you how to correctly install and use it. Most inspection stations require appointments.

There’s an inspection station at the Monroe County Office of Traffic Safety on West Main Street. Several local police and fire departments also do it.

Click here to find a location near you.