If an auto accident is moderate to severe, the car seat needs to be replaced. However, car seats do not need to be replaced if the damage to the vehicle is minimal. But how can you tell a minor accident from a moderate one? Child safety seats probably do not need to be replaced if all of these conditions are met:
1. The vehicle was able to be driven away from the scene of the accident.
2. The door nearest the safety seat was undamaged.
3. No vehicle occupant was injured in the accident.
4. The airbags did not deploy.
5. There is no visible damage to the safety seat.
When in doubt, ask your auto technician about the extent of the damage to your vehicle to better assess whether or not it means your child safety seat needs replacement. You should be able to trust your technician, so look for someone with high qualifications. Automotive service businesses that belong to ASA must agree to follow a strict code of ethics. To
find an ASA shop near you,
visit the ASA Web site at www.ASAshop.org or call (800) ASA-SHOP.
To keep your child safe, you need to use your child safety seat correctly. Infants under 20 pounds should face the rear of the car. Never put a child safety seat in the front passenger seat -- if the airbag deploys, it could cause serious injury to a young child. Infant seats should stay at a 45-degree angle.
You should check that the belts are routed correctly, using either the vehicle owner's manual or stickers on the seat. The seat belt should not give or move when the seat is pulled or rocked.
More information about child safety seat requirements is available at the NHTSA Web site, www.nhtsa.gov. Additional tips for motorists are available at www.ASAshop.org.