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Is your child’s car seat safe? Chances are it isn’t

Car seats significantly increase your child’s ability to survive a car crash. When poorly installed, these safety devices are less effective and your child’s life my be in jeopardy.

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Transportation Association (NHTSA) found that 82% of all children’s car seats were not used correctly.

Common Installation Problems

There are some common problems that go with each type of car seat.

Rear Facing Infant/Convertible Car Seat
Improper amount of recline in car seat. The angle should be between 30 and 45 degrees.

Forward‐Facing Car Seat
Loose car seat installation. The car seat should move no more than one inch when pushed or pulled at the anchoring points.

Highback/Backless Booster Seat
Improper lap belt position. The lap belt should be placed across the hips/thighs of the child.

Don't Install A Car Seat Like Tim Taylor

For some, installing a car seat is intimidating so they follow the instructions step by step. There are others who let out their inner Tim Taylor (Home Improvement), ignoring the instructions and guessing how to properly install the car seat.

A NHTSA study found 15% of all drivers who installed car seats/booster seats did not ready ANY of the instructions on how to properly install the seats.

Recalls and Shelf Life

Even if you purchase the correct car seat for you family and install it correctly, there is the chance the children you drive are still at risk from the car seat.

Manufacturer recalls on car seats need to be monitored. Faulty hardware and poor design can contribute to a recall. Ignoring these recalls means the children in your car have a great risk of not surviving a car crash. You can check if your car seat has been recalled here.

For families trying to save some money, looking at used car seats or an old car seat might seem like a good idea, but it isn’t. Most car seats have a shelf life that expires within six‐to‐eight years of manufacture.

Many car seats have information on the seat that share the manufacture date and expiration date. If you don’t see that information on the seat, call the manufacturer.

Best Intentions Aren’t Always Enough

Don’t think that the car seat is the only way to protect children riding in your car. Attentive driving is also important and not always easy when children are in the car.

Make sure that you set up boundaries for your children’s behavior when they are passengers in a vehicle. Reminding them to be respectful to the drive and other passengers, to stay seated, and to follow the orders of the driver are important.

For the drivers, it is important to secure any loose items in the car, make sure everyone is buckled up and NEVER text and drive. Attentive driving is important for everyone.

How Effective Are Car Seats?

According to NHTSA, a car seat for infants can reduce the risk of fatal injury in a car crash by 71%. For older children it is 54%.

Car Seats and Booster Seats, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Child Seat Recall Campaign Listings, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Results of the National Child Restraint Use Special Study, May 2015, National Traffic Safety Administration
The Status Of Occupant Protection In America, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Traffic Safety Facts, June 2015, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

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