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Reusing a Car Seat after a Car Accident

Question of the Week


Updated May 18, 2004

Q. We were just in a car accident. Fortunately, everyone was restrained and no one was injured. Can we still use our children's car seats even though they were in an accident?

A. It depends. If it was a moderate or severe crash, then yes, you should replace the car seats.

However, if it was just a minor accident, then you may not automatically need to. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an accident is minor if:

  1. the vehicle was able to be driven away from the crash site;
  2. the vehicle door nearest the safety seat was undamaged;
  3. there were no injuries to any of the vehicle occupants;
  4. the air bags (if present) did not deploy; AND
  5. there is no visible damage to the safety seat.
If your accident meets all of those criteria, then you probably don't need to replace their car seats. If it was a more moderate or severe crash or if you aren't sure if your child's car seat is still safe, then you should likely replace it. Or at least have it checked at a Child Safety Seat Inspection Station

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