Keeping your children safe in a car isn’t easy. In fact, AAA has found that 75 percent of car seats are not properly installed. AAA has identified the top child-safety mistakes parents and caregivers make in cars.
Here’s how to correct the typical child-safety mistakes.
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All text by Tara Baukus Mello, Bankrate.com
Mistake: Moving child out of a booster seat too soon
Why: Seat belts won’t properly protect a smaller person in a crash.
What to do: Wait until the lap portion fits across the hips, not abdomen, and the shoulder belt fits centered on the shoulder.
Mistake: Seat or straps aren’t tight enough
Why: If the car seat and straps aren’t tight enough, the seat will move and not protect the child’s body.
What to do: Make sure the seat doesn’t move more than an inch. Check the harness straps to ensure they are snug.
Mistake: Turn a child forward-facing too soon
Why: Young children are better protected in a car crash in rear-facing seats.
What to do: Wait until a child is age 2 to turn him or her forward-facing.
Mistake: Allowing a child under 13 to ride up front
Why: Front seat belts are designed for larger bodies, and in a car crash, air bags can seriously injure growing bones.
What to do: Wait until children are in their teens to allow riding in the front seat.
Mistake: Using LATCH (lower anchors and tethers for children) restraint system incorrectly
Why: Not using the top tether will allow the child’s head to experience excessive forward movement in crashes. Using LATCH centered in the rear seat could cause it to work improperly.
What to do: Ensure LATCH works in the seat position you’ve chosen and that the top tether is tightened snugly.
Mistake: Transporting unsecured items, including pets
Why: Larger items such as suitcases and pets and even heavy backpacks and briefcases can become dangerous projectiles in a car crash.
What to do: Secure all cargo, including pets, before driving.