How you install your child’s car seat and buckle them in could mean the difference between life and death in a serious crash. According to a new study, as much as 95% of parents install their newborn child’s car seats incorrectly, and almost 75% face their seats in the wrong direction. This new research involved nearly 300 parents and scrutinized major car seat mistakes, pinning it against fatal crash data to discover the true importance of car seats.
Benjamin Hoffman, a medical director at Tom Sargent Children’s Safety Center at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, and a professor of pediatrics, authored the study. Hoffman’s survey used trained child passenger safety technicians to analyze the safety of each car seat and analyzed any mistakes the parents made. The study found that 95% of families made at least 1 mistake, and 89% of those mistakes were likely to increase risk of injury in a crash, according to recommendations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Data from the NHTSA revealed that, over the course of 4 years, 20% of the children involved in fatal car crashes were improperly restrained, or were not bucked up at all. This data includes a total of 18,116 children under the age of 15, and includes both surviving passengers and deceased. Of the children who died in crashes, a staggering 43% were improperly buckled, or not buckled at all. Additionally, 13% of the children who did not survive were seated in the front seat of the vehicle.
Improper car seat installation can mean a number of things. If a rear-facing seat is at an incorrect angle of decline, it could cause the baby’s head to flop forward in a crash. More than 30% of parents in Hoffman’s study had the harness retainer clipped too low, and more than half had the harness too lose. As a rule, the seat should not wiggle from side to side more than 1 inch, and the seatbelt retractor should always be locked. The way you buckle your child into a car seat is equally as important, as improper restraint could lead to unnecessary injury. For example, if the chest buckle is too low it could cause the baby to slump, and has been known to result in strangulation.
In order to keep your child safe, we encourage you to practice proper car seat safety, following NHTSA guidelines and those of your car seat manufacturer. Newborns should always be installed in rear-facing car seats, and should continue to face that direction until their weight reaches the manufacturer’s suggested limit, usually around 2 years old. Toddlers should use forward-facing car seats until age 7, or until they reach the weight capacity. At this age, kids should use booster seats until they are large enough to fit your car’s seat belt properly. Children should never sit in the front seat of a car.
Should you ever find yourself in need of legal guidance following a car accident where your child was injured in his or her car seat, Schneider Hammers can help. Our personal injury attorneys are familiar with the laws about child safety and product liability, and we can help you understand your rights. If your child’s car seat was faulty or poorly designed, you may have a right to seek compensation for any injuries or damages.
If you or your child are injured in a car accident, contact Schneider Hammers for legal help.