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May/Jun 2012 Issue

Smart move: child dummy tests seats

The nation’s automotive safety agency has unveiled a new crash test dummy that will be used to evaluate the growing number of child safety seats and boosters made for children weighing more than 65 pounds.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) “10-year-old child” dummy is the latest addition to the agency’s family of test dummies. It is the best tool available for measuring the risk of injury for higher-weight children using these restraint systems in the event of a crash.

Last year, NHTSA issued more stringent seat recommendations encouraging parents to keep children from birth up to 12 years old in the back seat in age- and size-appropriate car seats for as long as possible, up to the height and weight restrictions of the seat manufacturer. The guidance calls for children to ride in a booster seat–the last stage of safety seats–until they are big enough to use a seat belt properly, which is typically when the child is between 8–12 years old.

At the upper limits, children in booster seats can weigh up to 80 pounds. The new dummy will evaluate how well the restraint systems for these children manage crash energy and if the structures stay intact.

AAA study shows unlicensed drivers pose deadly risks

Despite the requirement in every state that motorists have a license to get behind the wheel, a new study shows that approximately one in five fatal crashes involves at least one driver without a valid license.

The report, “Unlicensed to Kill,” found that 18 percent of fatal crashes in 2007–2009 involved a driver who was unlicensed or invalidly licensed, such as having a suspended license. Those crashes resulted in the deaths of 21,049 people.

Released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the report also found that 50 percent of all unlicensed and invalidly licensed drivers in fatal crashes had alcohol in their system and an estimated 51 percent of all drivers who left the scene of a fatal crash lacked a valid license.

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