5 tips to ensure you're keeping your child safer in their car seat

Posted

(BPT) - Are you certain you have the right car seat for your child, and you’re using it correctly? A new survey revealed that many parents do not know car seat guidelines, or may be using seats incorrectly. State Farm surveyed U.S. parents ages 25-55 to study how parents actually use car seats to inform simple tips to follow, finding that 77% of parents did not know the age range covered by their state’s child restraint law — and nearly one-fifth of parents admitted they did not use a child safety seat in their vehicle.

Child safety restraints are essential to keeping children safer in a vehicle. Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for children in the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. When children are properly restrained in an appropriate child safety seat, booster seat or safety belt, their chance of being killed or seriously injured in a crash is greatly reduced. However, the survey found that nearly one-fourth of children who used a car seat while riding in a vehicle did not use them every time, and 28% of parents were not using the recommended type of safety restraint for their child.

"Today’s car seats are specially designed to keep children safer in case of a crash, but they won't work if you’re not using the right seat, or it’s not installed correctly," said Laurel Straub, assistant vice president of Enterprise Research at State Farm. "With the work done by State Farm and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia over 25 years ago to create Partners for Child Passenger Safety, parents could understand the importance of car seat safety and learn how to take the extra steps for greater peace of mind every time you get in your car."

State Farm has been committed to the safety of its customers for nearly 100 years. To help keep your child safe, here are some easy-to-follow car safety tips.

1. Beware secondhand car seats

Your car seat should have an expiration date stamped on it and should be replaced if it's expired. Car seats are largely manufactured from plastic, which degrades over time — especially due to factors like heat and cold. Degradation of plastic makes it brittle, reducing its safety effectiveness.

2. Know your child’s height and weight

Contrary to what many parents think, it is not age but height and weight that determines which kind of car seat to use. Keep your child rear-facing until they outgrow the car seat’s recommended height and weight range, because manufacturers are making seats to fit and keep children rear-facing long after their first birthday — for their safety.

In the study, reasons parents cited for not using child safety seats included the child not wanting to use it, the child being "too old" for the seat, or the seat being inconvenient. Because safety is paramount when driving in a vehicle, it’s crucial to follow recommended guidelines regardless of the child’s age and attitude, to help protect them.

Unclear what seat your child needs? Visit UCSG.SafeKids.org.

3. Don’t forget boosters

Older kids can also be at risk in a crash. Be sure to check guidelines for your child to continue using a booster seat according to their height and weight, not their age. In the survey, children aged 3 and over were significantly more likely to be using the wrong type of child restraint.

4. Make sure your car seat is installed correctly

  • Front-facing seats: Make sure the top tether is connected. Check car and safety seat manuals for help with tether connections.
  • Make sure it’s not too loose. In a crash, a loose seat provides less protection. Keep seats belted in when not in use or they could become a projectile.
  • Use the inch test. Make sure you can’t move the car seat more than an inch in any direction. To test, tug hard on the base near the seat belt path opening.
  • Secure your child correctly. All clips and buckles should be fastened and tightened so you can’t pinch extra webbing at the shoulder.

Installing a car seat correctly can be daunting, but you don’t have to go it alone. The Safe Kids Coalition can help you get your car seat checked by a trained technician.

5. Drive cautiously

Finally, make sure you're always driving safely. Distracted driving is a leading cause of crashes, so put your phone away, give your children a book or movie to keep them occupied and always keep your eyes on the road.

For more information from this car seat survey and tips to keep your child safe, visit https://newsroom.statefarm.com/nearly-a-fifth-of-us-parents-skip-life-saving-child-safety-seats/.