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Is your child properly secured in the car? AAA offers safety suggestions
Family Safety

Is your child properly secured in the car? AAA offers safety suggestions

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Is your child properly secured in the car?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car crashes are a leading cause of death for children ages 1-13. AAA — The Auto Club Group, encourages parents and caregivers to make sure their children are riding safe and securely in the family vehicle.

MADISON — With National Child Passenger Safety Week just concluding, AAA — The Auto Club Group, encourages parents and caregivers to make sure their children are riding safe and securely in the family vehicle.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

  • Car crashes are a leading cause of death for children ages 1-13
  • 37% of children killed in car crashes are unrestrained
  • 59% of car seats are used incorrectly

“Even parents with the best intentions may unknowingly endanger their children by putting them in the wrong seat or not securing them properly,” said Nick Jarmusz, director of public affairs for AAA — The Auto Club Group. “Since safety recommendations can vary based on your child’s age and size, AAA urges parents to take a moment to ensure their child is setup for a safe ride.”

Summary Tips

  • Find the right car seat. Types of seats vary based on their age, weight and height.
  • Install your car seat correctly. Review instructions and video tutorials.
  • Get your car seat inspected. Availability may vary due to COVID-19.
  • Ensure safety belts fit properly every time. The placement of the safety harness or seat belt can be critical.
  • Register your car seat. Sign up for recall notices to receive safety updates.

“Parents are often eager to turn their young children forward-facing in their car seats too soon,” said Jarmusz. “However, due to their underdeveloped bodies, children below the age of two who ride forward-facing are at a greater risk of head, neck and spinal cord injuries if involved in a collision.”


ich seat to use?

If you’re not sure when to move your child to the next type of car seat, look to these stages:

Rear-facing safety seat: Children should stay rear-facing as long as possible, up to the limits of the car safety seat. This includes almost all children under 2.

Forward-facing safety seat, with harness: Many seats can take children up to 60 pounds or more. When they are ready and exceed the seat’s limits, move to a belt-positioning booster seat.

Belt-positioning booster seat: Use until the vehicle’s lap and shoulder seat belts fit properly — generally when children are at least 4 feet, 9 inches tall (usually 8 to 12 years old).

Front seat versus back seat: All children younger than 13 should be restrained in the rear seats of vehicles for optimal protection.

The Seat Belt Fit Test

  • Your child’s knees bend at the edge of the seat when the back and bottom are against the vehicle seat back. Feet should touch the floor for comfort and stability.
  • The vehicle lap belt fits snugly across the hips or upper thighs.
  • The shoulder belt fits across the shoulder and chest, NOT across the face or neck.

If your child does NOT meet all three conditions, your child should continue to use a car seat or booster seat. You can do the test again when your child grows a little.

“Seat belts are designed for adults, not children,” Jenkins said. “A seat belt that does not fit correctly, could cause injury in the event of a crash.”

Common mistakes

Moving out of a booster seat too soon: Use booster seats until seat belts fit properly—when children can sit with their back against the seat, knees bending at the edge of the seat and feet touching the floor.

Not installing the car seat tightly enough: The car seat shouldn’t move side-to-side or front-to-back more than 1 inch at the belt path.

Harness straps too loose: Harness straps should lay flat without twists. Be sure the harness is snug enough that you can’t pinch any extra material at the child’s shoulder.

Driver or other passengers not buckled up: Everyone in the vehicle should always ride safely buckled up. Kids are watching their parents and learning.

Should I buy a new or used car seat?

Sure, it’s nice to save by buying it used. But it’s not always a good idea, especially with car seats. Here are four reasons you should always buy a car seat new:

The used car seat may be worn or damaged, and it won’t offer maximum protection in a crash.

Used car seats may have been recalled due to defects. Using a recalled seat puts your child at risk. When you buy your new seat, register it using the model number on the seat’s label. You can call the number listed on the label, or register the seat online. You’ll be notified if your car seat is recalled.

Just like eggs or yogurt, car seats can expire. An expired car seat could fail in a crash because the materials deteriorate over time. Find the expiration date at the bottom or back of the seat.

Used seats may be missing key parts, and there are many — hardware, straps, clips, instruction manuals and more. If some parts are gone, that makes the seat less effective in a crash.


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