According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics, car accidents are the number one cause of childhood death. The NHTS found that “4 out of every 10 children under 6 who die or are seriously injured in auto accidents were unrestrained or improperly restrained; however, when car seats are used correctly they are 71% effective in preventing injury among infants and 54% effective with children ages 1-4“. Properly installed carseats and booster seats can make the difference of life and death in a major car accident.
Some of the most common mistakes in carseats and boosters include:
1. REMOVING THE BOOSTER SEAT TOO SOON: In Georgia, children under the age of 8 are required to be in either a car seat or a booster seat that is suitable for their age and height, in the rear of the vehicle.
2. HARNESS STRAPS/CLIPS TOO LOW: If the strap/clip is too low, in the event of an accident, a child can be ejected out of the seat. The clips should be placed at armpit level.
3. TURNING CARSEAT FORWARD FACING TOO SOON: At a minimum, a child needs to be BOTH 1 year old and 20 lbs. or more before being placed in a forward-facing seat. However, it is recommended to remain in a rear-facing up to the age of 2. According to a 2007 study in the journal Injury Prevention, “children under age two are 75 percent less likely to die or to be severely injured in a crash if they are rear-facing”. Another study found riding rear-facing to be five times safer than forward-facing”.
4. PLACING CHILDREN IN THE FRONT SEAT TOO SOON: In GA, ALL children under the age of 8 whose height is less than 57 inches must ride in the backseat of a car. Although it is recommended for children under 13 to ride in the backseat. A child is safer in the back and farthest away from the force of an airbag. Airbags are designed to save adult and they deploy with great force that can severely injure children.
5. CARSEAT TOO LOOSELY INSTALLED: If the carseat is not properly anchored to the vehicle, it can do more harm than good. Follow the instructions to properly install the carseat or have your local fire department assist you in the install the first time.