According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, car accidents are the main cause of death for children aged 0 to 19 years old. While you can't do a lot for teens who drive apart from teaching them not to text and drive, you can do a lot more for toddlers and babies. A car seat can reduce the risk of potentially deadly injuries by more than 70%, if they are installed and used correctly. Unfortunately, more than half of child car seats are not properly installed, which can make them to malfunction. Here are the mistakes parents make most often when it comes to car seats.
Following the state laws
Following the laws is usually a good thing, but when it comes to car seats you should be following the federal recommendations. A Truck Accident Lawyer will recommend parents to follow the federal recommendations, which are made by NHTSA experts and can reduce the risk of injuries in the event of a crash. Lawyers often see cases when kids get injured, even if the parents followed the state laws. A common example is the booster seat. Most states require the child to use a booster seat until eight years old. However, a booster seat doesn't offer the same level of protection as a five-point harness seat.
At the same time, most state laws don't ask for children to sit in the back, while AAP recommends all children below the age of 13 should stay in the back seat. The reason for this is simple: young kids' bodies don't resist to the force of an opening airbag and are easily killed by this device when they sit in the front seat.
Giving up on the car seat too soon
Many parents rush into giving up on their child's car seat too soon. Each type of car seat is made for kids of a certain age and is meant to protect their bodies accordingly. Not following the manufacturer's instructions can result in a severe injury. You should keep the baby in the rear-facing seat until they are two years old. In the case of forward-facing seats with five point harness, you should stick to the manufacturer's specifications of weight and height. Because these are drastically different from one brand to another, look for a bigger seat, which can accommodate the child up to five or six years old. When the child outgrows their seat, you can switch to a booster seat, which enables the seat belt to fit the child's body and reduce the risk of severe injury by 45%.
Buying a second hand car seat
Never by a second hand car seat, because you don't know if it was involved in an accident. If it was, it might not offer the same level of protection it once did. Also, check out the expiration date of the seat: you should look for a seat with a long expiration date and avoid those which are near the expiration.
Parents can get free help on installing their children car seats from experts. Safe Kids and NHTSA provide lists of local car seat checkup points, where you can find these experts who can assist you in installing the car seat correctly.