Children’s car seats still pose problem for parents, caregivers, says AAA

It has been 30 years since the first child safety seat law was passed (in Illinois), but 75 percent of car seats continue to be improperly used or installed, according to AAA.

“The dedicated work of safety advocates [is] saving thousands of children’s lives,” said AAA during National Child Passenger Safety Week, which ran Aug. 15-21. “Still today, installing a car seat correctly remains a difficult task for parents and caregivers.”

The organization identified mistakes most frequently made when installing or using car seats.

Here are 10 of the most frequent mistakes:

  1. Moving out of a booster seat too soon – Seat belts are designed to fit adults, not children. Depending on a child’s growth and development, a seat belt typically fits properly between the ages of 8 and 12.
  2. Not installing the car seat tightly enough – It should not have more than an inch of wiggle room.
  3. Harness straps are too loose – Harness should be snug, with no gaps or twists.
  4. Retainer clip (or chest clip) is too low – The retainer clip needs to be at armpit level.
  5. Turning child forward facing too soon – A child should remain rear facing until they are two years old.
  6. Allowing a child under 13 to ride in the front seat – Younger children are not typically large enough to ride safely in the front seat and can be seriously injured by front air bags.
  7. Forgetting the top tether – Without the top tether, which is a strap that connects the forward facing car seat to the car and restricts the top of the seat from moving forward in a crash, a child’s head and neck could be subjected to excessive forward movement in a sudden stop or.
  8. Adding padding, toys or mirrors to a child’s car seat – Using products that have not been tested with the car seat may interfere with how the seat was designed to perform in a crash. Additionally, loose items can become dangerous projectiles in a crash.
  9. Transporting unsecured, heavy items, including pets, in the vehicle – These items can become dangerous projectiles in the car and seriously injure passengers.
  10. Wearing bulky coats/sweaters while buckled into a car seat – Bulky coats can create slack in the harness system – always buckle the child first and then place blankets over him/her for warmth.
    See additional reporting by The Washington Post on car seat safety here.
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