Car crashes are the leading 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, approximately 40 percent of these deaths could have been prevented if the child was properly buckled up.
Child Passenger Safety Week is an annual safety initiative aimed to reduce child vehicle fatalities by spreading awareness about car seat safety. Created by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (N.H.T.S.A.), this annual event provides parents with education and resources to help ensure their children are riding safely.
From September 20 to September 26, national and local organizations in Connecticut will be participating in Child Passenger Safety initiatives to help keep children safe. Ending the week with National Seat Check Saturday, residents can visit car seat check sites in their community to gain peace of mind that their child’s car seat is correctly installed. They will also have the possibility to consult with experts on tips for a better fit.
Children cannot protect themselves in the car. It’s up to every Connecticut parent to properly use a car seat and stay informed on how these products can reduce their child’s risk of 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 doesn’t always reach the people who need it most.
So many parents still do not know which type of car seat is best for their child. Designs become more complicated every year. The N.H.T.S.A. estimates that 3 out of 4 car seats are being misused.
Some of the most common mistakes parents make when choosing and installing a car seat are the simplest errors to correct, including the type of seat, placement, and installation.
Car Seat Type
Choosing your child’s car seat is one of the most vital steps to keeping them safe in the car. 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 and age will determine which seat provides optimal protection. Certain brands and styles are not right for every child, and not every car seat is capable of following a child as they continue to grow.
Car seats that are old, damaged, and subject to a previous crash may not provide protection in an accident. A car seat’s and safety features can become stressed and weakened over time, leading to malfunctions and injuries.
Car Seat Placement
If you were to ask a dozen parents what the best position for a car seat was inside their vehicle, you would most likely get several different (and possibly dangerous) answers.
One of the most common errors parents make when installing car seats 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 safer impact injuries in the rear-facing position.
Another mistake parents make when placing a car seat in a vehicle is putting a seat by the passenger side door. 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 when used correctly. The N.H.T.S.A. predicts at least 59 percent of car seats are installed wrong when placed in a vehicle. Some of the most common installation mistakes highlighted by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia include:
- Installing Seats Too Loose: The safety seat, when properly placed, should not 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 harness’s tightness 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 to be as secure as possible during a crash.
- Neglecting The Top Tether: Every seat has a top tether 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:
- 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 a lack of trying. Children are all different. Parents and guardians should seek additional resources specific to their child’s size and capabilities before making any decisions pertaining to their car seats.
Target Trade-In Deal
Car seats are expensive, and the price is one of the top reasons parents hold on to damaged and expired products. That’s why Target is offering a seat trade-in incentive to encourage customers to recycle old car seats and purchase a new model for a safer ride.
This year, Target is offering a 20% coupon to customers who trade in car seats now through 9/26. The program begins with customers dropping off their car seats in a designated box inside the store to receive a mobile coupon for future purchases.
To participate, you must download the Target App and scan the barcode on the drop-off box to receive the coupon. The coupon can be used on a new seat, stroller, or other select baby gear online or in-store.
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
Serving Fairfield County
Fee-based service at your location or ours
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
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.