This past July in Rocky Hill, a three-vehicle accident sent a toddler flying out of the Jeep he was riding in…while still in his car seat! The driver of the jeep was killed in the accident and the 2-year-old appeared dead at the scene until he was revived by first responders. His condition has since improved, but the risk of future health complications is not yet known.
Car crashes are the number one cause of death when it comes to children under 15 years old. Being that children this young are not the ones driving, parents and guardians are fully responsible for ensuring the safety of these kids when they are in the car, all starting with choosing and using the right safety seat.
Child Passenger Safety Week 2018
Child deaths in car accidents are more common than you might believe. From 2012 to 2016, there were 3,268 children under 13 killed while riding in passenger vehicles according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and these numbers have been increasing steadily since 2014.
In attempts to reduce the rates of child deaths in car accidents, NHTSA began the Child Passenger Safety Week campaign held September 23-29 and ending with National Seat Check Saturday (29th). A number of local institutions and organizations participate in this safety initiative every year with the goal of educating parents on the importance of using proper fitting child safety seats and providing hands-on assistance in ensuring these seats are secured and installed correctly.
What Parents Are Doing Wrong
For children under 5-years-old, NHSTA estimates that car seats can save an average of 300 lives every year, but only if these safety devices are appropriately used. A startling 59% of car seats are installed incorrectly inside of vehicles from the very beginning, and most of the time unknowingly by the parents who placed them.
Some of the most common installation mistakes parent are making highlighted by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia include:
- Seat Not Installed Tight Enough: The safety seat when properly placed should not be able to move more than an inch in any direction or it could be at risk of ejection during a crash.
- Poor Shoulder Strap Placement: Some parents place the shoulder straps far too high or low to be effective. The chest clip should be at armpit length for rear-facing kids and the shoulder straps at or below the baby’s shoulders. Forward-facing children should have shoulder straps at or above the shoulders.
- Failing The ‘Pinch Test’: The ‘pinch test’ involves the tightness of the harness once the child is buckled in. If you can pinch extra material when your child is in the seat, it is not tight enough.
- Improperly Placing Belt Strap: Parents are inserting the seat belt straps through the wrong slots on the car seat, causing the seat not be as secure as it could be during a crash.
- Neglecting The Top Tether: Every seat has a top tether that is located at the top of the seat. Instructions on how to use the tether to secure the seat differ deepening on brand and style, but a number of parents are choosing not to use it at all.
Other common mistakes parents are making when it comes to their children and car seats include turning children forward-facing too soon, buying the wrong car seat for their child, and placing children into their car seats in bulky clothing such as winter coats. Any of these errors could prove to be fatal for a child involved in a car accident- some are even against the state law.
Connecticut Car Seat Laws
Connecticut has specific laws regarding children in car seats that parents/guardians transporting children must follow to help keep children safe. Current laws state:
- Children must ride in a proper child safety seat and remain in the backseat of a vehicle until they reach appropriate age and weight limits.
- Infants must ride in rear-facing seats until they are at least 2-years-old and 30 pounds.
- Toddles must ride in a forward-facing, five-point harness seat until they are at least 5-years-old and 40 pounds.
- Children should ride in booster seats until they are at least 8 years old and 60 pounds. Seat belts on these children must have a lap and shoulder restraint.
- Children under 13-years-old should ride in the back seat.
Not only could drivers caught breaking these laws face criminal charges and large fines, innocent children’s lives could be put at risk as a result. However, state laws are not enough to encourage parents to use proper safety precautions for their children in the car and not due to lack of trying. Parents/guardians need more education and guidance when it comes to child passenger safety seats, particularly in choosing the right seat, installing the seat safely, and properly securing the children within.
Get Your Car Seat Checked!
Connecticut parents who are ashamed to ask for help when it comes to installing car seats, there is no need to feel guilty. A 2016 study published by the Journal of Pediatrics showed that 95% of parents are making at least one mistake when they are installing and securing the car seat, one of the reasons for NHTSA beginning Child Passenger Safety Week to begin with.
There are several different inspection sites Connecticut residents can visit to get their car seat checked for appropriate fit and proper installation. Most sites are open to the public but will require calling ahead for an appointment to ensure each family is granted an appropriate amount of time for their safety inspection.
This comprehensive list provided by Safe Kids Connecticut allows residents to search for all fitting stations available in their country, including location and contact information for making an appointment.
Some of the Fairfield County car seat fitting stations available are listed below:
Bethel Police Department
Bridgeport Hospital Yale New Haven Health
267 Grant Street
203-200-KIDS or 203-384-4390
Appointment Only one Wednesday month
Brookfield Police Department
The Car Seat Crew LLC
Danbury Police Department
Darien Police Department
25 Hecker Ave,
Darien CT 06820
203-662-5300 Ext. 5370
Open to Public
Contact Elizabeth Dilorio
Easton Police Department
Executive Livery, LLC
Greenwich Fire Department
Fairfield Police Department
100 Reef Road,
One Saturday a month
Call Allison or check FPDCT.com for details.
Little Riders LLC
Monroe Police Department
7 Fan Hill Road,
Monroe CT 06468
Residents & Appointments only
New Canaan Police Department
New Fairfield Police Department
Newtown Police Department
Norwalk Police Department
Safe in the Car
*Fee based service at your home/office*
Serving all of Fairfield and New Haven counties and parts of Litchfield and Hartford counties
Special needs trained
Stratford Police Department
Trumbull Police Department
Weston Fire Rescue
Westport Police Department
Wilton Police Department
Dedicated To Child Passenger Safety in CT
Connecticut children deserve the best protection available when it comes to riding in the car. If your child has sustained a serious injury from a vehicle accident due to the negligence of another motorist, you could be eligible for financial compensation to help out with any damages suffered. Our winning team of attorneys at Jacobs & Wallace are committed to fighting back for your family’s right to safe travels on Connecticut roads. Call us for a free case evaluation to review all of your options for seeking restitution for your child’s unnecessary injuries.