According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), children’s car seats are commonly installed incorrectly. More often than not, actually. Thanks to research and advancements in technology, car seats get safer every year. But it seems that the safer they become, the more complicated they are to use, with a vast array of anchors, chest clips, tethers, and pages of confusing instructions. The NHTSA reports that 59 percent of car seats are installed improperly.
Pediatrician Benjamin Hoffman believes that percentage is much higher. According to Hoffman’s research, 95 percent of newborn seats are being misused. Rear-facing and forward-facing seats are also a problem, with an 80 percent rate of misuse. A MA injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if your child has been injured due to another’s negligence.
“If you give a test and 95 percent of the people taking it fail, you have to assume there’s something wrong with the test,” said Hoffman. “Car seats are hard to use and there’s a lot of factors that feed into that.”
The Right Seat for My Child
And the problems don’t only lie with the installation of the seats. Selecting the right seat for your child’s age, weight, and height can also be an issue. “Every kid is sized differently and every car seat is sized differently, so it can be difficult,” said AAA spokeswoman Beth Mosher.
Don’t let price fool you. “The least expensive car seat meets the same federal standards as more expensive car seats,” said Hoffman. The types, styles, and brands of car seats can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many retailers are flexible about allowing you to see if the seat works for you, and returning it if it does not.
Once you’ve purchased your seat, local police stations and AAA locations often provide inspections of car seats at no cost. The need for such a service is evidenced by attending any of the multiple car seat clinics offered around the country. During these inspections, the most common errors found include:
- Switching to a front-facing seat before the child is ready.
- Switching to a booster seat before the child is ready.
- Improper use of hooks, tethers, and belts that lock the child’s seat to the car.
- Failing to ensure that harnesses fit the child snugly.
Car accidents are the leading cause of death for children between the ages of one and 13. Many of these deaths can be prevented with a properly installed car seat. “It’s really important to continue to hammer on the industry that they need to help us protect everybody,” Hoffman said.
Is it Defective?
Sometimes the issue isn’t with the installation or use, but with the product itself. Millions of car seats have been recalled due to design flaws including flammable materials, and defective harness systems. Having your car seat inspected once you’ve installed it may help to detect any defective, broken, or missing parts. A Boston injury lawyer can help you recover damages if a defective car seat has caused harm to your child. Continue reading