Car crashes are the leading safety issue facing children with approximately 183,000 children injured in car crashes in 2018, or more than 500 injuries per day, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). As National Child Passenger Safety Week (Sept. 19-25) approaches, AAA and the National Safety Council (NSC) are sharing new research that sheds light on the extent to which parents and caregivers in the U.S. are informed about car seat installation and use.
According to the National Digital Car Seat Check Form (NDCF) database, more than half of all car seats brought in for inspection to child passenger safety technicians are improperly installed and used. Yet, the general consumer survey revealed only 1 in 5 parents and caregivers seek expert help installing a car seat or securing a child in a car seat.
Data from the NDCF database also revealed:
There are three common mistakes. These include (1) having the car seat installation be too loose, (2) failing to use the tether when installing a forward-facing car seat with either the lower anchors or seat belt, and (3) leaving harness straps too loose when securing a child in a car seat.
Children are often transitioned out of the appropriate car seats before it is safe to do so. More than a quarter of children are moved from forward-facing car seats to booster seats too soon, and more than 90 percent of children using lap-and-shoulder seat belts under the age of 10 should still be in a car seat or booster seat.
Parents and caregivers are less likely to seek car seat inspections as children grow into forward-facing and booster car seats. Child passenger safety technicians inspect about four times the amount of rear-facing car seats than they do forward-facing car seats, and 73 percent of forward-facing seats are not correctly installed.
Boost Your Child Passenger Safety Knowledge and Skills
Car Seat Basics is a free online course that helps participants understand the four stages of child passenger safety, including rear-facing car seats, forward-facing car seats, booster seats, and seat belts. Participants can complete the full training or select a module on a specific stage of child passenger safety. The course was developed through NSC’s work with NHTSA.
AAA urges parents to get a car seat inspection so they can have confidence knowing that their child passenger is protected. For more information on resources, including free car seat inspections at AAA branch offices, visit AAA.com/SafeSeats4Kids.