Installing Child Car Seats: 95 Percent Of Adults Do It Wrong

A stunned driver with a dash cam saw a car seat, with a toddler strapped inside, fall out of the moving vehicle in front of him. The driver stopped right away, got out of his car, and flailed his arms in the road to make sure no one would hit the child. The video was posted on social media and viewed thousands of times.

According to Heather Watson, a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician Instructor with Safe Kids Clark County, the misuse rate for car seats is as high as 95 percent.

Watson reports that some people use the latch that attaches the seat to the car incorrectly, while others fail to install the car seats tight enough.

When Watson demonstrated how to properly install a car seat, it took her less than 15 minutes. She emphasized the importance of installing a seat properly because it greatly reduces the chances of children getting a head injury in a collision.

Watson said there is one sure way to know if the car seat is not secure. "Just give it a tug on the belt pad where the seatbelt or the latch belt goes through," she said.

If the car seat moves more than an inch, it was installed incorrectly, according to Watson.

Watson also said there are several AAA locations where they offer to inspect consumer's car seat for free.

Local highway patrol and police departments often host car seat inspection events throughout the year, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has car seat inspection locators that consumers can use. Carla Wade "Viral video highlights the need for proper child safety seat installation" (Jan. 16, 2019).

Commentary and Checklist

The most common forms of misuse of car seats are using the wrong seat for the child’s age and weight, having loose safety belt attachments to the car seat; and having loose harness straps on the child.

In the source article, the expert mentioned that the misuse rate for car seats is 95 percent. Unfortunately, 96 percent of parents believe that their child safety seats are installed correctly.

Here are some additional tips to help ensure car seat safety:

  • Keep infants in the back seat in a rear-facing child safety seat as long as possible, up to the height or weight limit of the particular seat. At a minimum, keep infants rear-facing until age one or 20 pounds.
  • When children outgrow their rear-facing seats, they should ride in a forward-facing child safety seat in the back seat until they reach the seat's weight or height limit, usually around age four or 40 pounds.
  • Once children outgrow their forward-facing seat, they should ride in a booster seat in the back seat until the vehicle seat belt fits properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest, usually at age eight or when children reach 4'9" in height.
  • All children younger than 13 years should ride in the back seat.
  • Choose a car or booster seat that correctly fits your particular vehicle.
  • Always read the instructions that come with your restraint system to make sure it is properly installed.
  • Use the restraint system until your child reaches the maximum height and weight requirements on that particular system before moving on to the next recommended system.
  • Make sure that children ride in the car seat or booster seat every time they travel in a car.
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