DETROIT, Jan 22 (Reuters) - U.S. safety regulators have proposed upgraded standards for child car seats that will better protect children when the vehicle is struck on the side, said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The regulator said it has determined that the improvement will save five lives a year.
Car seat manufacturers will be given three years to meet the new standards and tests, once they are approved, NHTSA proposed.
Car seats sold in the United States will undergo, for the first time, side impact tests, if the new rules go into effect. The tests are designed to check the safety of children in car seats who weigh less than 40 pounds.
Current standards test car seats for front-of-vehicle crashes.
NHTSA estimates that the proposed standards and new test will save five lives and prevent 64 injuries annually.
"Under the proposal, car seats would be tested in a specially designed sled test that simulates a 'T-bone' crash, where the front of a vehicle traveling 30 mph strikes the side of a small passenger vehicle traveling at 15 mph," NHTSA said in a press statement issued on Wednesday.
Crash test dummies representing 1-year-old and 3-year-old children will be used in the tests.
"We all want to make sure our children's car seats are as safe as possible, and today's proposal will give parents and car-seat makers important new data on how car seats perform in side crashes," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. (Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by David Gregorio)