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How can I avoid the most common mistakes in using car safety restraints?

By Ken Gibson on December 11, 2013

The most common mistakes in using car safety restraints for babies and children seem to come from a lack of awareness. For example, the experts say children of all ages are safest when properly restrained in the back seat. Yet many drivers believe it is safe for children to sit in the front seat in front of a passenger air bag.

In previous blogs, I’ve talked about the importance of getting your car seat installation and usage checked out by an expert – either here in Gloucester or in another location convenient to you. For other inspection sites, click here.

But if you want to do your own self-check before your holiday travel, you will need to find the directions for your safety seat or booster. If you don’t know where your directions are, you can usually find them easily online at the manufacturer’s website. (Just find the manufacturer’s name and product name on the seat or booster.)

Often, just re-reading the directions for installing and using your product will alert you to the mistakes you may be making. To help you know what you’re looking for, here are the most common mistakes people make, and the best ways to correct them:

What are the most common child safety seat installation mistakes?
(Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

  1. Not using the right child safety seats for your child’s size and age.
  2. Not placing the child safety seat in the correct direction.
  3. Incorrect installation of the child safety seat in relation to the vehicle’s air bags.
  4. Incorrect installation and tightness of the child safety seat to the vehicle seat.
  5. Not securing or tightening the child safety seat’s harness and crotch straps.
  6. Improper use of locking clips for certain vehicle safety belts.
  7. Not making sure the vehicle’s seat belts fit properly across the child when using a booster seat.
  8. Using a defective or broken child safety seat.

The following tips from CHKD can help you install and use a forward-facing car seat properly:

  1. Many forward-facing car seats require an upright position; however some models provide a semi-recline option – see instructions.
  2. Harness straps should fit snugly against your child’s body. You should not be able to pinch any extra slack in the straps at the shoulder.
  3. The chest clip should be positioned mid-chest level with the armpits. This clip help keeps the straps positioned well on the shoulders and keeps the child in the car seat in the event of a crash.
  4. The top tether should always be attached. This reduces the forward movement of the head during a crash, decreasing the risk for severe spinal and neck injuries. A tether strap is included on the back of all forward-facing child restraints. To find your vehicle’s tether anchor, refer to your vehicle owner’s manual. They are often labeled and located low on the back of the seat, or in the window shelf in a sedan.

We at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys wish you safe and happy holiday travels!

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Prevention, empathy, and diligence are hallmarks of everything we do at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys. Our community can see these ideals lived out in our work to prevent personal injuries from happening.

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