Archive for Car Safety

This Week Is Child Passenger Safety Week

Auto Accidents Lawyer

Child Passenger Safety Week began September 16 and culminates September 22 with National Seat Check Saturday. The goal is to remind parents and care givers to make sure that they are properly using and installing their child safety seats. Car crashes are the number one killer of children 1 to 12 years old in the United States and the best way to protect them in the car is to put them in the right seat, at the right time, and use it the right way.
A new National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) survey shows that parents are making five significant mistakes when using car seats and booster seats:

  1. Wrong harness slot used – The harness straps used to hold the child in the car seat were positioned either too low or too high;
  2. Harness chest clip positioned over the abdomen rather than the chest or not used at all;
  3. Loose car seat installation – The restraint system moved more than two inches side-to-side or front to back; anything more than one inch is too much.
  4. Loose harness – More than two inches of total slack between the child and the harness strap; there should be no slack.
  5. Seat belt placement was wrong – Lap belt resting over the stomach and/or shoulder belt on the child’s neck or face.

The survey also found that one in five parents do not read any instructions when installing seats, yet 90 percent felt confident or very confident that their car seats and booster seats were installed correctly. If car seats and booster seats are not used properly they may not protect the child the way they should.
To help parents ensure their child seats are installed and used correctly, Safe Kids and NHTSA are encouraging everyone to take 15 minutes to conduct an at-home checkup using the following guidelines:

  • Right Seat. Check the label on your car seat to make sure it’s appropriate for your child’s age, weight and height.
  • Right Place. Kids are VIPs, just ask them. We know all VIPs ride in the back seat, so keep all children in the back seat until they are 13. Doing this, along with correctly using the appropriate child restraints, greatly reduces the risk of injury.
  • Right Direction. You want to keep your child in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible. When he or she outgrows the seat, move your child to a forward-facing car seat. Make sure to attach the top tether after you tighten and lock the seat belt or lower anchors.
  • Inch Test. Once your car seat is installed, give it a good shake at the base. Can you move it more than an inch side to side or front to back? A properly installed seat will not move more than an inch.
  • Pinch Test. Make sure the harness is tightly buckled and coming from the correct slots (check manual). Now, with the chest clip placed at armpit level, pinch the strap at your child’s shoulder. If you are unable to pinch any excess webbing, you’re good to go.

Parents are encouraged to read the vehicle and car seat instruction manuals in addition to following the checklist. By following these guidelines not only will your child ride as safely as possible, but you will be establishing the foundation for a lifelong habit of seat belt use every time your child travels.

A New Danger: Counterfeit Air Bags

US Car Safety Law

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a consumer safety advisory to alert vehicle owners and repair professionals to the dangers of counterfeit air bags on US car safety law . Thousands of motorists may be at risk of driving cars and trucks installed with these dangerous counterfeit bags.
According to the NHTSA, these air bags look nearly identical to certified, original equipment parts and some even bear the insignia and branding of major automakers. However, testing of these air bags has shown consistent malfunctioning, ranging from non-deployment of the airbag to the expulsion of metal shrapnel during deployment.

The problem is not a manufacturing issue, but a counterfeit issue. Government investigators believe many of the counterfeit bags come from China and then they are marketed to auto repair and body shops as real, certified equipment, industry officials said. Auto dealerships that operate their own body shops are less likely to have installed counterfeit bags, due to the fact they are usually required by their franchise agreements to buy their parts, including air bags, directly from automakers. However, only 37 percent of auto dealers have their own body shops. So in these situations, consumers whose vehicles have been damaged are referred by their insurance companies to auto body shops that aren’t affiliated with an automaker.

While the full scope and scale of this problem is uncertain from currently available data, NHTSA has identified certain vehicle makes and models for which these air bags may be available and believes this issue affects less than 0.1 percent of the U.S. vehicle fleet – an estimated 250,000 cars on the road. Only vehicles which have had an air bag replaced within the past three years by a repair shop that is not part of a new car dealership or who have purchased a replacement air bag online may be at risk.

Fortunately, no deaths or injuries have been tied to the counterfeit bags, but it’s unclear whether police accident investigators would be able to identify a counterfeit bag from a genuine one. About 1.5 million air bags are deployed each year in auto accidents. So even though there have not been any deaths, this is an extreme safety risk. Air bags save thousands of lives each year and are an essential piece of safety equipment in vehicles.
It is important for at risk motorists to contact the call center that has been established by their auto manufacturer to have their vehicle inspected at their own expense and their air bag replaced if necessary. Here is a list from the NHTSA explaining who is most at risk:
Consumers who have had air bags replaced within the past three years at a repair shop that is not part of a new car dealership
Consumers who have purchased a used car that may have sustained an air bag deployment before their purchase
Consumers who own a car with a title branded salvage, rebuilt, or reconstructed
Consumers who have purchased replacement air bags from eBay or other non-certified sources-especially if they were purchased at unusually low prices (i.e. less than $400)