Car Seat Safety

Posted by  | Monday, November 5, 2007  at 10:11 AM  
This week's topic is "Safety." There are so many safety issues to consider as a parent. We are bombarded with recommendations, warnings and recalls daily. Car seat safety is one that is often taken for granted.

According the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 38,588 fatal crashes in 2006. The likelihood of your family being involved in a serious car accident is high enough to warrant paying close attention to car seat safety. The following post will hopefully give you a summary of important points, along with links to equip you with the facts necessary to be sure your child is as safe as possible when riding in the car.

The following points were taken from the NHTSA's website about Child Passenger Safety. I have added the bold type to emphasize points that are often overlooked. I have also added some comments of my own in RED type.

Child Safety Seats Save Lives

  • Child seats reduce the likelihood of an infant (under 1 year old) being killed in a vehicle crash by 71 percent and toddlers (1-4 years old) by 54 percent.
  • Children ages 4 to 7 who use booster seats are 59 percent less likely to be injured in a car crash than children who are restrained only by a seat belt, according to a study by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).
  • While 98 percent of America’s infants and 89 percent of children ages 1 to 3 are now regularly restrained, not enough children ages 4 through 7 are restrained properly for their size and age. Restraint use among 4-7 year olds is 78 percent.
  • The National Survey of the Use of Booster Seats (NSUBS) found that only 41 percent of children ages 4 to 8 are riding in booster seats; NHTSA recommends that children who have outgrown their child safety seats should ride in booster seats until they are at least eight years old, unless they are 4’9” tall.
  • Child restraints work best if you use them correctly. Failure to read the child safety seat instructions, in addition to vehicle owner manual instructions regarding installation, could result in serious injury or death as a result of a failure of the child safety seat to be securely and/or properly restrained.
  • The three most common mistakes in installing a child safety seat are (1) not attaching the seat correctly and tightly to the car or truck, (2) not fastening the harness tightly enough, and (3) not using the chest clip or using it incorrectly. Keep in mind that you should check your car seats installation every so often as well. They can loosen over time!
  • All 50 states and the District of Columbia have laws requiring children to be restrained in cars. Make sure you know the laws of your state and make it the law of your car. Please remember laws are usually the minimum requirements for safety.

Child Restraint Tips

  1. For the best possible protection keep infants in the back seat, in rear-facing child safety seats, as long as possible up to the height or weight limit of the particular seat. At a minimum, keep infants rear-facing until a minimum of age 1 and at least 20 pounds. There are rear-facing car seats available to allow children to rear face up to 33 pounds, maybe even higher.
  1. When children outgrow their rear-facing seats (at a minimum age 1 and at least 20 pounds) they should ride in forward-facing child safety seats, in the back seat, until they reach the upper weight or height limit of the particular seat (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds). Again, there are car seats available to allow children to remain in 5 point harnesses forward facing well beyond 40 pounds. Ours goes to 65 pounds. I know of at least another one that goes to 85 pounds!
  1. Once children outgrow their forward-facing seats (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds), they should ride in booster seats, in the back seat, until the vehicle seat belts fit properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest (usually at age 8 or when they are 4’9” tall).
  1. When children outgrow their booster seats, (usually at age 8 or when they are 4’9” tall) they can use the adult seat belt in the back seat, if it fits properly (lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest).
I want to point out that there are SAFE car seat options at every price range to meet the recommendations above. That said, we currently rear face at 17 months old, less than 20 pounds and using a Britax Marathon as our main seat. We will evaluate our rear facing situation at 2 years old depending on his weight at that time.

Here are some videos that show the importance of REAR FACING.

Another video with more crash tests

Family of a three year old killed because he was in a booster too early (I do think this accident was less preventable because the seat belt itself failed. Not just the fact that he was in a booster too early.) This family has formed the Kyle David Miller Foundation.

I realize that some may think these videos are using emotions to convince viewers. But I think when there is a simple way to help prevent tragedies like these- why not? Yes - the video is sad, but I truly think they are legitimate and the parents made them in order to educate other parents like us.

Lastly, some links to more information. Feel free to post any additional questions, recommendations or experiences you might have as well!

CPS Safety website - good summary of information

NHTSA's ease of use ratings - they rate each car seat in several areas.

Child Safety Seat Inspection Stations
- Search by zip code for locations to get these checked! Keep in mind most fire stations (not all though!) do this, but there are other locations as well.

American Academy of Pediatrics Car Seat Guide - Despite the fact that many pediatricians often give misleading car seat advice (mine included), the American Academy recommends rear facing as long as possible. This is a great link!


Shannon said...

This is a good issue to discuss. I feel you can't be too cautious about this topic. I would love for a professional to actually check out our seats to make sure they are correctly installed. Thanks, ladies.

Mallory & Amy Gabriel said...

I called several places around here (Louisville, KY) to find out who would preform a car seat check. I kept going in circles from the fire dept to the children's hospital. Any suggestions on where to get it done?

Christina said...

I searched the link that was in my post and several others and the only thing I seemed to find for Louisville was the children's hospital. I found this name and number for a contact there. Look familiar? If not - give that a try!

Sharon Rengers

You could try this link. I just searched and there were TONS in Louisville!

Surely one of these people could help! Let us know if you are able to find someone!

Sanders said...

Great information, thanks for the post!

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