10 Car-Seat Mistakes You Might Be Making

It's Child Passenger Safety Week, so take the time to make sure your kid's ride is as safe as possible.
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Of course you'd do anything to protect your children, including buckling them into a car safety seat every single time you get in a vehicle. But for many families, that's simply not enough. According to new research from the Ad Council and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly half of all car seats are used or installed incorrectly – which may partly explain why car crashes are a leading cause of death for children ages 1-13. Plus, according to the NHTSA, “More than one-third of children 12 and younger who died in crashes in 2016 (while riding in cars, pickups, vans, and SUVs) were unbuckled. Many of those kids could have survived if they had been buckled up.”     

It’s Child Passenger Safety Week, and now that summer's out, school's in, and you don't have to stress about that adorable Halloween costume yet, take time to make absolutely certain that you are using the right seat and it's correctly installed. Start by checking out our Confused Parent's Guide to Car Seats and learn how to correct the common mistakes parents make, including:

  • Using the wrong size seat at the wrong age

  • Switching a rear-facing seat to front-facing too soon

  • Switching from a front-facing seat to a booster seat too soon

  • Switching from a booster seat to a seatbelt alone too soon

  • Not positioning the seat where you can get the tightest fit

  • Using lower anchors incorrectly

  • Using both lower anchors and the seat belt—you should choose just one type of installation method.

  • Not using the top tether for a front-facing seat. The top tether is critical whether you're using a seat belt or lower anchors.

  • Continuing to use lower anchors when your child has surpassed the weight limit

  • Not fastening the harness straps securely enough or in the correct position

We know—the rules are mind-boggling! And the safety concerns don't stop there. A recent study conducted at The Ohio State University analyzed nearly 3,600 potential combinations of car seat models and vehicle models and found that 42 percent of the time it's impossible to get a compatible (read: safe) fit. Don't put your children at risk the next time you head for the grocery store, Grandma's, or the zillions of other places you transport them daily. School yourself on the latest rules and get a trained Child Passenger Safety (CPS) technician to inspect and approve your car seat installation.

Many locations around the country will be holding seat check events this week on Seat Check Saturday, September 29. The car seat inspection locator, plus more car seat safety information and advice, can be found at NHTSA.gov/TheRightSeat.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

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