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Should you discard your child’s car seat after an accident?

Keeping the children safe is the prime responsibility of any parent. For that reason, you always secure your young kids in car seats that are appropriate for their ages and sizes. After all, when car accidents happen, car seats reduce a child’s injury risk by as much as 82%.

If you are like many parents, money is in short supply nowadays. Because car seats can be expensive, you might wonder whether you can keep using your child’s car seat after an accident. The answer depends on the type of accident you have.

Only continue to use car seats after a minor car accident

For decades, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has told parents only to trust car seats that have been through minor car accidents. Put differently, a car seat that has been in a moderate or severe car accident might not protect your child sufficiently.

For your car accident to be minor as opposed to moderate or severe, each of the following must be a true statement:

  • Your car is driveable after the crash.
  • Your car’s airbags do not deploy during the crash.
  • Your car does not have damage to the side nearest to your child’s car seat.
  • No one in your vehicle sustains any injury in the crash.

Discard damaged car seats in a responsible way

If your child’s car seat is no longer safe, you must dispose of it in a responsible way. Specifically, you should place markings on the car seat so that others know you have discarded it. Spray paint and permanent markers work well for this. You also should place the damaged car seat in a secure trash bin or send it to a recycling center.

Ultimately, by discarding the car seat properly, you ensure it does not fall into the hands of another parent who might not know its full history.


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