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Car Seat Safety Facts

Child car seats are one the most important safety issues when driving.  A simple but important law has been changed in Maryland. Children must stay in a car seat or boosted seat until they are eight years old, regardless of weight.  This is intended to keep children as safe as possible, as it is believed the age of the child is more important in determining safety than the weight category.

On a national scope The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted a study on common car seat mistakes.  All the issues noted were simple mistakes, but extremely important. The wrong harness slot was used; the harness can be adjusted depending on the child’s size and weight. The harness chest clip was not positioned correctly; it must be across the chest. The harness itself must have no slack, cases showed usage where there was slack. There was too much give in the securing of the seat itself. The seat must only move an inch front to back or side to side. An important problem here is knowledge. 20% of the drivers with child passengers didn’t even read the installation instructions yet, 90% felt their installation was correct. 

There are several resources available to check the integrity and installation of a child car seat. An organization called, Safe Kids, in partnership with the NHTSA, offers several simple steps to check for the appropriate seat and installation. First off the car seat advises the proper age, height and weight for the car seat. Also, child products are constantly recalled, periodically check to make sure your car seat is not on a recall list. Always seat the child in the back seat; children should not be in the front seat until they are 13. New guidelines now advise to keep a child in the back seat rear facing until they are at least two years of age. After installation of the car seat make sure there isn’t too much wiggle room. From front to back, and from side to side, the seat should not move more than an inch. Once the child is seated the harness should be at chest level with no slack. There is a pinch test, if you pinch the fabric or try to you shouldn’t be able to get any slack. Different cars have different features to securely fasten a car seat to the back seat. There are anchors above the headrest and at the seam of the seat cushion, refer to your particular car’s manual for proper location of the anchor devices.

Child car seats are an important safety feature that should not be taken lightly they should be properly installed and a child should never be out of one when a vehicle is moving. The seat should be constantly checked and secured appropriately.