“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:
- 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.
- Not installing the car seat tightly enough – It should not have more than an inch of wiggle room.
- Harness straps are too loose – Harness should be snug, with no gaps or twists.
- Retainer clip (or chest clip) is too low – The retainer clip needs to be at armpit level.
- Turning child forward facing too soon – A child should remain rear facing until they are two years old.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Transporting unsecured, heavy items, including pets, in the vehicle – These items can become dangerous projectiles in the car and seriously injure passengers.
- 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.