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Child Passenger Safety Week: A Reminder to Use Car Seats and Booster Seats

To mark Child Passenger Safety Week, the US Department of Transportation and Safe Kids are reminding parents, guardians, and caregivers to make sure that their children use the appropriate car seat/booster seat when riding in a motor vehicle and that these child safety devices are working properly and installed and used correctly. Unfortunately, according to a new National Highway Traffic Safety Administration survey, there continue to be “five significant mistakes” made involving the use of car seats, including:
• Strapping a kid into a car seat by using the wrong harness slot
• Positioning the harness chest clip on top of the stomach area rather than the chest–or deciding not to use it at all.
• Failing to properly secure the car seat when installing it, which allows the safety restraint system to be able to move front to back and side-to-side by more than the acceptable one-inch leeway.
• Improper placement of the seat belt on the child seated in the car seat, including resting the lap belt on the abdomen or the shoulder belt on his/her face or neck.
• Allowing any slack to exist between the seat’s harness strap and the child.
Also, out of every five parents, at least one is installing a child safety seat in his/her vehicle without first reading the accompanying directions. To mark this week, SafeKids is offering a checklist to use for conducting an at-home inspection on a car seat:
• Look at the label to make sure the seat is the right one of the child’s age, height and weight.
• Keep all kids under age 13 in the rear seat.
• Face the child seat in the right direction–to the rear until age 2, to the front through age 4, and in a booster seat between ages 4 to 8 or until he/she is 4’9 tall.
• Make sure, once the car seat is secured/strapped in to the vehicle, you cannot move it around more than an inch, front to back, side-to-side.
• Check that the harness is in the right slot and you cannot pull at any of the webbing.
Even if your child is using a child safety seat, if it isn’t working/installed properly or is defective in any way, this defeats the purpose of it serving as protection for him/her during a collision. NHTSA reports that 75% of kids aren’t really safe when riding a motor vehicle because of improper car seat use. You also will want to want to periodically check for recalls involving car seat defects.
Seeing as The Gilbert Law Group is a products liability law firm, we would be remiss if we didn’t remind our readers of the common types of child seat defects that can put your child at risk of injury or death in the event of a car crash, including:
• Poorly constructed child safety seats
• Shell/base separation
• Harness defects
• Incomplete/unclear instructions
• Handle defects
• Flammable materials
Just because a car seat or a booster seat is expensive or comes from a known brand–Graco, Britax, Evenflo, Summer Infant, Maclaren–this doesn’t mean it is the right one for your child or that is free from safety issues. While the US Consumer Product Safety Commission tries to stay on top of car seat defects and issue recalls when necessary, these usually occur after a car seat has already made its way into the marketplace.
Our car seat lawyers are dedicated to helping our clients obtain their child injury compensation from negligent manufacturers and other liable parties found responsible in products defect cases. The Gilbert Law Group also seeks to promote change so that less children are hurt in the future. Contact our products liability law firm today.
U.S. DOT and Safe Kids Kick Off Child Passenger Safety Week With New Survey on Common Car Seat Mistakes, NHTSA, September 17, 2012
Car Seat Checkup, SafeKids
Guidelines for Parents and Caregivers, CDC

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