Child car seat safety hinges on proper installation

The numbers are disturbing. Some quote the percent of child car seats installed incorrectly at 75 to 80 percent. Chat with police officers who conduct child seat safety checks, and a few may put the number as high as 90 percent. For as much as parents are told to review installation of the seats, somehow many are still getting it wrong.

While the biggest tip for parents is to follow the seat manufacturer’s directions, they also should take advantage of car seat safety inspections. Often local police, fire, or sheriff’s departments, state patrol, public health departments, or hospitals will conduct the free safety checks.

Other helpful hints to follow to ensure the safety of children are:

  Install the child seat in the center of the rear seat or opposite the driver (remember to always check this placement with the seat manufacturer’s guidelines).
  Replace child car seats after a moderate accident. While the seat might look OK, it’s best not to take any chances. SECURA and some other insurance companies pay for replacement of car seats after an accident.
  Check the seat expiration date. Located on the seat somewhere should be a sticker noting its expiration date. Like the tip above, the seat might appear OK, but it could be weakened or otherwise damaged due to normal wear and tear, and sunlight. Most seats expire within five to six years of manufacture.
  Consult your state’s standards for child car seats to ensure compliance.
  For children under the age of 13, the safest place to ride is in the back seat.

Visit the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration child safety page to learn more about child seat safety, find an inspection station, or read a new parents safety seat buyers guide.