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Are Your Kids Riding as Safely in the Car as You Think?

Posted on May 1st, 2014 by | 8 views

Did you know that 93% of car seats are installed incorrectly?  And 88% of children are in their seats incorrectly?  How does yours measure up?


One of the most important jobs you have as a parent is keeping your child safe when riding in a vehicle. Each year thousands of young children are killed or injured in car crashes. Proper use of car seats helps keep children safe. The three most common errors parents make when installing a car seat and how to install and use them properly are: 

1. Securing the car seat with both the LATCH and seat belt.

2. Securing the chest clip too low.

3. Turning the car seat forward facing too early.


Our goal is to keep children safer by following the laws and guidelines set by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and industry leaders and steering clear of some of the most dangerous and common mistakes. 


Mistake #1 Securing the car seat with both the LATCH and seat belt -

While you might think that using both the LATCH and seat belt to secure your child's car seat would make his car seat more secure, used together they would actually end up causing the car seat to be less secure and therefore less safe. You should use one but not both when installing your child's seat as each system works differently. Used together they can actually work against each other. You want to choose the option that is easiest for you to install properly, not allowing the car seat to move more than 1 inch in any direction. The LATCH or seat belt are equally as safe when installed properly.  


Mistake #2 Securing the chest clip too low. 

The purpose of the harness is to keep the child in the car seat. When the straps of the car seat are properly secured, they will contact the strongest parts of the body and spread forces over a wide area of the body. They also help the body to slow or "ride down" the crash forces while protecting the head, brain, and spinal cord.

Having the chest clip too low can cause the harness to be too loose and the child can be ejected out of the seat in a crash which could cause serious injury. The harness straps should be snug and have no slack (they need just enough room to expand their lungs). The harness should be at armpit level.


Mistake #3 Turning your child to forward facing too early. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends keeping your child rear-facing until they have reached the recommended weight capacity of the car seat. The American Academy of Pediatrics even recommends that children remain rear-facing at least until they are 2-years-old or have reached the recommended weight capacity of the car seat. When a child is rear-facing, the car seat absorbs the forces of a frontal crash (the most common and sever type of crash) by rocking and rebounding, his body will be cradled by the back of the seat. When the child is forward facing, the child's head and fragile neck (imagine a bowling ball on a scarf) is forced forward, risking paralysis or death because of the still developing neck muscles and spinal cord. The recommended weight capacity for most car seats in the rear-facing position is 40 lbs., for some children that could be 3-4-years-old. Many parents are concerned about the legs, but legs heal, heads, necks, and spines do not, and that is what we are trying to protect. In California, no child has broken their legs being rear-facing in a crash.

When the child is old enough and reached the appropriate weight limit to be forward facing, make sure to attach the designated tether anchor (this reduces the forward motion of the child's head and neck in a crash by several inches). 


Jennifer Lindeman is a nationally certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST).  She has been helping parents keep their kids safe on the road since 2012.  She is available for car seat installations and inspections at your home or office.  She also is a Hypnotherapist, teaches HypnoBirthing and Infant Massage and does Placenta Encapsulation.  She can be reached at [email protected]