Car crashes are the number one cause of death for children in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.), 675 children ages 12 and under were killed in car crashes in 2017. Sadly, at least 35 percent of these deaths could have been prevented if the children were buckled up at the time of the crash.
Securing your child in the proper child passenger safety seat is the easiest way to reduce their risk of injuries in an accident. To help spread awareness, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (N.H.T.S.A.) is sponsoring their annual Child Passenger Safety Week. From September 15 to September 21, 2019, the N.H.T.S.A. and partnering organizations will distribute resources, and host events aimed to keep kids safer on the road.
The safety campaign ends with National Seat Check Day on Saturday, September 21. By visiting a car seat check in your community this weekend, you can gain peace of mind that your child’s car seat is correctly installed and the best fit to keep your child safe if an accident were to occur.
Children cannot protect themselves in the car. It’s up to every Connecticut parent to know the dangers of not properly using car seats and to stay informed on how to best use these products to reduce their child’s risk of car accident injuries. To start, we’ve compiled a few of the best need-to-know safety tips parents can use when it comes to car seat safety.
Car Seat Mistakes To Avoid
Choosing a car seat is not as easy as it used to be. Recommendations for car seats are ever-changing as our understanding of vehicle safety continues to expand. Unfortunately, as fast as information is gained, it does not always reach parents and guardians as quickly.
So many parents still do not know which type of car seat is the best for their child. And with the designs becoming more complicated every year, many believe they are correctly installing these seats when they are not. Here are the most common mistakes parents make when it comes to choosing and installing a car seat that could lead to life-threatening injuries in an accident:
Car Seat Type
Safe Kids Connecticut reports only 1 in 5 car seats in the state is used properly. This includes choosing the right seat for your child from the start.
Mistakes parents often make when shopping for or choosing a car seat include:
- Choosing car seats based on style or brand.
- Buying cheap or damaged car seats for price discounts.
- Using second-hand car seats that are past the expiration dates.
- Using car seats that face forward when children should be rear-facing.
- Using car seats based on the child’s preference.
- Continuing to use a car seat after a vehicle has been in an accident.
When parents are shopping for a car seat, their child’s size is the number one factor determining which seat will provide optimal protection. Certain brands and styles are not right for every child. And not every car seat are capable of following a child as they continue to grow.
Parents who continue to use old or damaged car seats, or car seats that have been in an accident are also putting their child in danger. The parts and safety features on car seats can become stressed and weakened from the force of a car crash or years of wear-and-tear. This can cause a car seat to malfunction in an accident and leave your child vulnerable to injuries.
Car Seat Placement
If you were to ask a dozen parents what the best position for a car seat was inside of their vehicle, you would most likely get several different (and possibly dangerous) answers.
One of the most common errors parents make when installing carseats is flipping their child around too soon. In Connecticut, it’s the law that children must ride rear-facing until they are at least two-years-old, if not longer. Some safety experts have even suggested moving the age to five, stating that children are far more safe in the case of an accident when facing backward in regards to impact injuries.
Other mistakes parents can make when placing a car seat in a vehicle include unnecessarily placing car seats by the passenger side doors. Safe Rides 4 Kids reports children are 43 percent safer when placed in the middle seat of a car. Passenger doors and windows increase a child’s risk for injuries if a car is struck on the side. The middle seat provides a lower risk for impact injuries, particularly in the case of direct collisions.
Car seats can save an average of 300 lives every year, but only when used correctly. The N.H.T.S.A. predicts at least 59 percent of car seats are installed improperly when placed in a vehicle. Some of the most common installation mistakes parents are making, highlighted by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, include:
- Installing Seats Too Loose: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.
Connecticut Car Seat Laws
Connecticut has specific laws regarding children in car seats that parents and guardians transporting children must follow to help keep children safe, including:
- Children must ride in a proper child safety seat and remain in the backseat of a vehicle until they reach the appropriate age and weight limits.
- Infants must ride in rear-facing seats until they are at least 2-years-old and 30 pounds.
- Toddlers 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.
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. Children are all different. Parents and guardians should be seeking additional resources specific to the size and capabilities of their child before they make any decisions pertaining to their car seats.
Walmart’s Trade-In Deal!
Car seats are expensive, and the price is one of the top reasons for why parents hold on to damaged and expired car seats. To help parents out, Walmart is offering its first-ever car seat trade-in incentive to encourage customers to recycle those old car seats to score a deal on a new one.
For all customers who turn in a used car seat from now until September 30, Walmart will award them a $30 gift card that can be used on any item in-store or online. The incentive is perfect to use on the next car seat you need for your little one. Here’s how to participate:
- Bring your car seat to the Customer Service counter from September 16 to September 30.
- Leave the car seat at the counter and walk away with a $30 Walmart gift card.
- There are only two-trade-ins allowed per household (booster seats are not eligible).
For more information on the trade-in program, view Walmart’s policies here.
Get Your Car Seat Checked!
In a 2016 study published by the Journal of Pediatrics, researchers found nearly 95 percent of parents are making at least one mistake when installing and securing car seats. There is no harm in getting your child’s car seat inspected for safety. A quick and simple inspection could highlight even a small error that could save your child’s life.
With National Seat Check Day around the corner, there are several different inspection sites Connecticut residents can visit. 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.
These are some of the Fairfield County car seat fitting stations available:
Bethel Police Department
Bristol 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
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
Trumbull Police Department
Weston Fire Rescue
Westport Police Department
Wilton Police Department
Connecticut Personal Injury Attorneys and Safety Advocates
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, 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.