Tips to avoid common car seat mistakes | Families
During National Child Passenger Safety Week AAA Texas Reminds Parents of Common Car Seat Mistakes:
Parents go to great lengths to make sure their children are safe. But when it comes to car seat safety, too frequently mistakes can put children at risk without parents realizing it.
“While strides have been made to make car seats easier to use, the overwhelming majority of car seats are still not installed properly,” said AAA Texas/New Mexico Representative Doug Shupe. “AAA Texas reminds parents to protect their most precious cargo by having their car seat installations inspected by a professional.”
To kick-off National Child Passenger Safety Week, Sept. 17-22, AAA Texas urges parents to guard against these mistakes to help ensure their child is safe in a crash:
- Not using a safety seat. Whether an infant, toddler or booster seat-age child, parents should always use the appropriate child restraint system every time their children are in a vehicle. Safety seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers. Using a booster seat with a seat belt for older children instead of a seat belt alone reduces the risk of injury by 59 percent.
- Not reading safety seat instructions. Three out of four car seats are installed incorrectly. With thousands of combinations of child safety seats and vehicle belt systems, it’s important for parents to read both the vehicle owner’s manual and the child safety seat instructions before installing a seat.
- Using restraints for children too soon. Whether it’s turning an infant forward-facing or progressing into an adult seat belt, parents frequently advance their children into the stage of safety restraints too soon. Keep your child in a rear-facing seat as long as possible. Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness. Children should use a booster seat until an adult seat belt fits them properly—typically when the child is 4 feet 9 inches tall. All children under age 13 should be placed in the back seat.
- Installing safety seats too loosely. When a child safety seat is properly installed, it should not move more than one inch in any direction. If using a seat belt, make sure it is locked to hold the seat snugly in place.
- Adjusting seat harnesses incorrectly. Safety seat harnesses should always be snug and lie flat without twists. The chest clip should be positioned at armpit level.
- Improperly using Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH). Despite technologies, such as LATCH, AAA’s recent survey of certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians (CPST’s) reveals LATCH misuse is cause for concern. The top misuses include: using LATCH in the rear-center seating position when not permitted by vehicle manufacturer, using both the seatbelt AND the LATCH system to install the car seat, and using the wrong belt path with the LATCH attachments to install the car seat.
- Keeping loose items in vehicle. Any loose items in a vehicle, such as purses, laptop bags or umbrellas can become dangerous projectiles in a crash or sudden stop and cause severe injury to a child, other passengers or the driver. Make sure to secure loose items.
AAA offers SafeSeats4Kids.AAA.com to help parents understand how to properly keep their children safe inside a vehicle.