Car Seats Are Not Child’s Play
The Importance of Car Seat Safety
How hard could it be? Harder than you think. Sure, a child’s car seat looks like just another piece of new and shiny baby gear, but it really is a sophisticated piece of safety engineering. And proper installation sometimes can make the nervous parent feel like she needs an engineering degree. But, whatever it takes, the seat must be placed and secured properly.
According to the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than a third of children under age 13 – who died in passenger vehicle crashes in 2015 – were not equipped with car seats or seat belts.
“Safety is our top priority, particularly when it comes to protecting our children – who are our most vulnerable passengers,’’ a NHTSA spokesperson said. “Car seats, when correctly installed and used, provide proven life-saving and injury-reducing benefits for child passengers. Parents and caregivers can be the first line of defense by ensuring their children are correctly secured in the right seat for their size and age, and by buckling up themselves.’’ From 1975 on, the NHTSA estimates, approximately 10,00 lives were saved by child restraints for children under the age of 5 in passenger vehicles.
Safe Kids, a worldwide organization that works to project children from unintentional injuries including traffic accidents, estimates that 20 percent of child safety seats are improperly installed, and that adults do not follow instructions accurately (even though 90 percent are convinced they do). That usually means the seats are installed too loosely – which allows the seat, and the child in it –to fly forward in a crash. According to the NHTSA, children should remain in car seats until age of 12, or when they are at least 4-feet 9-inches tall, the height at which someone safely can use a seat belt.
Rules to Remember
- Determine if your child is in the right seat for his or her age and size.
- Read the instructions and labels that come with the child seat and study the vehicle owner’s manual for important information on installing the seat in your particular vehicle.
- Use the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) restraint system or seat belt to install your car seat, and use the top tether to secure forward-facing car seats.
- Infants must ride facing the rear until they are at least 1 year old and weigh 20 pounds, but preferably for a longer time.
- When jiggled in the area where the safety belt is pulled through, the car seat should not move more than one inch in any directions.
- Harness straps should be tightened so that slack can’t be pinched between an adult’s thumb and forefinger.
- The child seat must be reclined just enough so the child doesn’t flop forward, but no more than 45 degrees from vertical. If the baby is positioned more than that, it could be thrown out between the straps head first.
- Register your car seat and booster seat at SaferCar.gov so you will be informed if there is a safety recall on your model.
- Never buy a used car seat. There is no way to know for sure if it has been in an accident or if parts are missing.
And, should you need an experienced and determined attorney on your side, don’t hesitate to contact Ardalan & Associates in Los Angeles.