Dangerous Rides: What Parents Need to Know About Car Seat Safety

In a recent article highlighting the top recalls of 2014, three out of the 24 items listed were car seats whose buckles and latches were prone to malfunction, resulting in difficulties when removing a child quickly in emergency situations. This list highlights the dangers of these child restraint devices which most parents install in their family cars, believing that they are protecting their children from risk.

At a time when an average of 92 people die each day in motor vehicle crashes and hundreds of thousands of people are killed each year, many of them children, it is more important than ever that parents install appropriate car seats to protect young children in the event of a crash. Yet, the National SAFE KIDS Campaign cites that over 50 percent of children ages 14 and under who are killed in car accidents were not properly restrained at the time of impact. Even for families that follow government guidelines and purchase car seats however, there is no guarantee of safety. In fact, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has listed nearly one million car seat recalls between 2007 and 2013.

Importance of Properly Installing Car Seats

Despite these recalls, which highlight the dangers associated with improperly manufactured car seats, their use undoubtedly saves lives. According to the latest NHTSA statistics, in 2012, it is estimated that 284 children under the age of 5 were saved as a result of child restraint use, a category which includes both car seats and seat belts. Moreover, from 1975 to 2012, it is estimated that more than 10,000 children were saved by the use of child restraints.

It is important that parents carefully follow the directions that are included in car seats’ manuals for installation. Below are some common mistakes that parents commonly make when installing and using car seats:

  • Moving a child out of a booster seat too soon: Florida law requires that children under the age of five to be properly restrained no matter where they are seated in a vehicle. Moreover, children through the age of three must be secured in a child safety seat and infants must ride rear-facing until they are at least one year old and weigh twenty pounds or more.
  • Improperly installing a car seat: NHTSA reported in 2011 that more than 95 percent of car seats are improperly installed or used. Some common mistakes that parents make are not buckling the car seat tightly enough and not selecting the right direction for placing the car seat. Experts recommend that infants should be kept in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible. For additional guidance, parents can look to car seat labels to determine how much a child can weigh and still use a vehicle’s car seat attachments.
  • Using or borrowing an older car seat: Consumer Reports has noted that more than three out of four car seats that are recalled are never returned or repaired. Thus, parents should not borrow a car seat without also knowing its full crash history. Car seats that are purchased from a second-hand store or passed along by a friend may have missing parts or have been recalled which poses dangers.

At The Pittman Firm, we know that protecting your children is of paramount importance. If your child has been injured in an auto accident due to a recalled car seat, call our firm today for an evaluation of your case.

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