The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration today unveiled the latest tool in its wide-ranging injury-prevention arsenal, a new crash test dummy scaled to simulate the size and weight of a typical 10-year-old child. Intended to help the agency better evaluate the efficacy of child and booster seats for use by individuals weighing between 65-80 pounds, this newest member of NHTSA's family of test dummies was developed in concert with a revised and expanded safety requirement that goes into effect today.

For the first time, NHTSA will use a purpose-designed test dummy to evaluate how well various higher-weight restraint systems manage actively crash energy and whether the seat structure itself remains intact during and after an impact. According to NHTSA, this specific "10-year-old-child" model will provide never-before-available information about the risk of injuries using head and knee excursions as well as chest acceleration.

"It's good news that manufacturers are making more car seats and boosters than ever before designed to keep older and heavier children safer on our roadways," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "As the marketplace evolves to accommodate changing consumer needs, it's important that safety regulators also have the best tools possible for evaluating how well these products work. This new test dummy breaks new ground for the Department's crash test program and is a significant step forward for evaluating child seat performance."

The agency's updated child seat guidance recommends that all children ride in an approved booster seat until they are big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. According to NHTSA, that typically occurs when the child is somewhere between 8-12 years old and about 4 feet 9 inches tall. For a comprehensive overview of child car safety seats, current state laws regarding their use and NHTSA’s latest recommendations, visit: http://www.nhtsa.gov/Safety/CPS.

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