Toward that end, the proper use of child safety seats are vital in keeping our children as safe as possible when riding in a motor vehicle; the importance of which cannot be overstated.
“According to the The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, child safety seats reduce the risk of death in passenger cars by 71.0 percent for infants, and 54.0 percent for toddlers ages one to four years of age,” said Kentucky State Police spokesmen Jeff Gregory.
“Booster seats reduce the risk for serious injury by 45.0 percent for children ages four to eight years of age,” Gregory added.
Even with the advances made over the last two decades regarding child safety when riding in a vehicle, car accidents remain the number one cause of death among children in the United States. With a significant percentage of those deaths, and instances of life-altering injuries being avoidable with the proper use of child safety seats.
This fact places parents in the line of fire when gauging responsibility for the unnecessary pain, suffering, and sometimes death, of the most precious cargo carried by motor vehicles -- A recent study led by the AAA Chicago Auto Club found that “three out of four car child seats are being improperly used or installed.” According the study, the mistakes made by parents in car seat installation range from “not fastening a seat tightly enough to moving children out of infant or child seats before it is otherwise prudent.”
If ever there was a need for parents to be diligent in caring for their children, it is clearly in the area of car safety, because errors made in properly restraining one’s children while riding in a car can be deadly.
Here, according to AAA, are the 12 most common mistakes made by parents regarding the installation and use of child car seats:
- Moving a child out of a booster seat too soon -- Seatbelts are designed to restrain adults, not children. Depending on the child’s physical development, a seat belt won’t fit properly until he or she is between the ages of eight and 12.
- Not installing the seat tightly enough -- A kid’s seat should not slide front-to-back or side-to-side, and there should not be more than an inch of “wiggle room” in the seat belt.
- Harness straps are too loose -- Child seat straps should be straight and flat and adjusted tightly enough to fully restrain a child in a crash.
- The harness retainer clip is set too low -- The clip should be set at armpit level for proper restraint.
- Moving a baby into a forward-facing seat prematurely.
- Allowing a child under the age of 13 to ride in the front seat.
- Neglecting the top tether – The top tether secures a forward-facing seat to the car and keeps the top of the seat from moving forward in a crash when a child’s head and neck could otherwise snap forward with excessive force.
- Adding padding, toys or mirrors to a car seat -- Products such as theses may interfere with the seat’s performance or could come loose and become hazardous projectiles in a collision.
- Installing a car seat via a vehicle’s built-in “LATCH” – Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children, required in all car models since 2002 -- in the center position, when it is otherwise not approved by the automaker.
- Carrying unsecured items, including pets, in the vehicle -- Again, these can become injury-inflicting projectiles under sudden braking.
- Installing a car seat using both a car’s LATCH connection and a seatbelt -- AAA says parents should use one method but not both, as they often work against each other in a crash.
- Allowing children to wear bulky coats while secured in a car seat -- This can create undue slack in the harness system; it’s better to place blankets over kids in the car for warmth.
“The Kentucky State Police have personnel at every Post statewide that is certified to install and recommend the best seat for each child and every family’s installation,” Gregory said. “We can also see to it that those who cannot afford to purchase one can be equipped with a safety seat for their child. Anyone who would like to have their current safety seat setup inspected to insure compliance, or have one installed properly, can call their local KSP Post and make an appointment.”
To contact Post 4 of the Kentucky State Police in Elizabethtown, please call (270) 766-5078. Don’t hesitate, don’t stall. Urgency is not a four-letter word when it comes to protecting a family’s most important asset; its children.