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Proper Car Seat Installation and Your Child’s Safety

Installing Your Child’s Car Seat Properly Can Prevent Fatal Injuries

How safe is your child while riding in a car seat in the back of your automobile? According to a recent report from ABC News, the answer to that question could depend upon whether you have installed your toddler’s car seat properly. The article cited a fatal car accident involving a small

passenger vehicle and an armored truck that left everyone inside the vehicle dead—including a mother and grandparents—except for a toddler who was buckled into her child safety seat. The young girl escaped the crash with five fractures, including fractures in her arm, clavicle, and leg. While she remains in a rehabilitation center, doctors expect her to recover.

In this case, the child’s car seat was properly installed. Yet as the article notes, “eight out of every 10 car seats are installed incorrectly” in the United States. And currently, car accidents are the leading cause of death among children.

Why are so few parents installing car seats properly? According to the article, the problem is not the actual positioning of the seat within the vehicle (although the rear middle seat is the safest spot). The problem lies in the way that parents use the car seat harnesses. Molly Grinstead, a Children’s Health injury prevention specialized, explained, “there’s something basic you want to see on every harness, and that’s that the chest clip is right at armpit level, and that it’s so snug that if you try to pinch the strap on the side you can’t get any slack, but not so tight that it hurts your child.”

A number of organizations offer car seat installation and safety check assistance, and many communities have free events at which you can have your child’s safety seat inspected. For example, Safe Kids Worldwide offers online services to locate a child passenger safety technician in your area.

Get the Facts About Child Passenger Safety 

According to a fact sheet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), parents and other caregivers can significantly reduce the risk of a child’s death in a car accident by “buckling child in age- and size-appropriate car seats, booster seats, and seat belts.” Here are some facts to support that assertion:

  • Properly securing infants (children under the age of one year) in a car seat reduces the risk of death by 71% in an auto accident.
  • Properly securing toddlers (children between the ages of one and four years) in a car seat reduces the risk of death in an auto accident by about 54%.
  • Using booster seats reduces the risk of fatal car accident injuries for kids between the ages of four and eight by about 45% in comparison with only seat belt use.

Why do we need to raise awareness about proper car seat usage? As the CDC underscores, every year “more than 618,000 children ages 0-12 ride in vehicles without the use of a child safety seat or booster seat or a seat belt at least some of the time.” In other words, hundreds of thousands of children are at risk of a preventable car accident injury. Therefore, always make sure that your child is securely buckled and in the event of a car accident, contact an experienced car accident lawyer to determine your rights.

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