The federal government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration developed a new 10-year-old child test dummy to better evaluate child safety seats for older children. NHTSA’s updated child seat regulations include requirements for kids who weigh more than 65 pounds, and stress that children remain in booster seats until the seat belt fits them properly.

Currently, NHTSA has dummies that represent kids who are 6-years-old and younger. The new dummy fills in the gap for older, heavier children. "The 10-year-old child test dummy was developed in concert with new safety seat requirements updated to keep pace with the latest scientific research and child restraint system technologies,” says NHTSA in a press release. “It will provide never-before-available information capturing the risk of injuries using head and knee excursions, as well as chest acceleration.”

NHTSA also recommends that parents keep their kids in a booster seat until the seat belt fits right, “which is typically when the child is somewhere between 8-12 years old and about 4 feet 9 inches tall.”

The Washington Post says that childhood obesity helped drive the new safety regulations. “The childhood obesity epidemic has created a growing number of children over 65 pounds, and car seat manufacturers have responded with products for them,” says The Washington Post. “Federal regulators who set standards for car seats have been hindered in testing the new seats because they lacked an appropriate dummy.” The new dummy can evaluate child safety seats for children who weigh 65 to 80 pounds.

Having the appropriate child safety seat is just one step in protecting your kids. It’s important to choose one with good safety scores from NHTSA and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and a strong list of safety features that can help prevent a crash and protect your family if one occurs.

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