Three out of 4 child safety seats are not properly installed. Jennifer Huebner-Davidson, Manager of Traffic Safety for AAA and an expert on child safety seats, discusses some of the common mistakes and what you can do to make sure your child’s seat is properly installed.
Why Child Safety Seats?
Car and truck seat belts are designed for adults. For the best protection, the lap belt should be low and snug across the hips and the shoulder portion must be snug across the chest, away from the neck and face. For many adults, this is not a problem. However, for young children, adult seat belts never fit properly. With an incorrect fit, a child is at serious risk. A child safety seat or booster seat remedy this problem.
Child safety seats are now an accepted feature when a child is in a car. Organizations across the globe call for their use. The U.N. Decade of Action for Road Safety includes child safety seats as an important element in reducing the number of global road fatalities. Parents everywhere are purchasing them and understand the need to have them in the car.
The issue now is that many child seats are not properly installed. A few common mistakes include:
- Using the lower anchors and the car’s seat belts in combination to secure the child safety seat.
- Not using a tether when indicated by the manual.
- Placing a child safety seat in the center of the back seat using the lower anchors from the two outside seats.
- Not considering the combined weight of the child and seat when using the anchor system.
Parents are obviously trying to install the seats properly, but mistakes are being made. Some times it is an over abundance of caution creating an issue. For example, using the lower anchors and the seat belt in combination to secure a child car seat would make you think that it is increasing the safety potential. However, there is no research that it is improves a child’s safety and there are concerns it could create problems. Seat belts and the lower anchor system are designed to work independently.
In this episode, Ms. Huebner-Davidson also provides guidance on the type of child car seat that should be used and when to change to a new car seat. Ultimately, as she indicates, one should always first read the Child Safety Seat Instruction Manual and then the vehicle manual.
Three tips for achieving a successful installation include:
- Read the Child Safety Seat User Manual
- Read your vehicle manual
- Get the seat checked at a Car Seat Check Site
Getting an inspection at the car seat check site allows an expert to determine if the seat is properly installed. If it isn’t, the technician will show you what is incorrect and how to fix it so when you are on your own, you’ll have the knowledge and ability to install it correctly. Click here to find the closest car seat check site to you.
Once your child is old enough and according to the user manual for the child safety seat, the next step is to move to a booster seat. This will help the adult seat belt to properly fit your child. Finally, when your child grows old enough to leave the booster seat behind, remember, they still need to wear a seat belt and ride in the back seat.
As your child grows, providing her or him as much protection as possible from injuries in a car crash requires three steps:
- Purchase the correct child safety seat
- Properly install it
- Use it
You have taken the time to purchase the seat and to install it – make sure to do that last step, and use it. You never know about the driving skills of the person next to you, or if they may be texting while driving or driving impaired. Remember, once you have installed the seat, it should be used Every Ride, Every Time. Using these three steps can help ensure your child has the life he or she was meant to have.
- AAA – Child Safety
- AAA – Safe Seats 4 Kids
- NHTSA – Car Seat Recommendations for Children
- Car Seat Check