Can I keep using a child restraint system after an accident?
The answer is no, as it may have been deformed
The answer to this question is clear: no, the same child restraint system cannot be used after an accident.
A child restraint system is a passive safety device intended to be effective only once in a worst-case scenario. The entire device is therefore designed to be able to absorb the forces resulting from a collision.
It should be remembered that a child restraint system consists mainly of plastic parts which deform during a collision to restrain the occupant. This deformation, which may or may not be permanent, damages the plastic and energy-absorbing parts, as well as the harnesses and guides.
It is impossible to determine the amount of deformation and damage that a device may suffer in a traffic accident. If we think that in a low speed crash the restraint system suffers very little or not at all, we are actually putting the safety of our children in a grey area where they should never be.
Nor is it possible to determine the minimum “damage-free” collision speed, as we have no guarantee of what speed this limit would occur at, because child restraint systems are not subjected to repeated low-speed tests to ensure their effectiveness in such situations.
This means that after any accident, the child restraint system must be replaced, regardless of whether the collision was at a low speed or not, and irrespective of whether externally the device appears to be undeformed.
Finally, it is important to remember that, in most cases, child restraint systems are covered by civil liability insurance, meaning that so is their replacement.