Motor vehicle crashes remain a leading cause
of death for children under age 13. In Illinois, one out of
four children who die in crashes is unrestrained. In 2014,
14 children, (birth through nine years) were killed and
3,602 were injured in motor vehicle crashes.
1. Turning the child forward-facing too soon
Researchers estimate that proper use of federally-approved
car seats could reduce child deaths by 71 percent and
injuries by 67 percent. National observational data shows
car seat usage rate for children under four years old is
above 90 percent while booster seat usage rates for children
four - seven is approximately 20 percent. Injury and
fatality data indicates that a similar pattern is true in
Did you know the most common mistakes made when installing a
child’s car seat can also be the most deadly?
Children should remain rear-facing as long as the car seat
allows, up to the
height and weight limits of the car seat. Car seats shells
are designed to absorb
crash forces. Turning a child forward-facing too soon
increases the likelihood
of injury to their head, neck and spine.
2. Not adjusting the harness snugly against the child
The harness properly positions the child in a car seat and should be snug to provide the best protection. Harness straps should lay flat against the child (not over heavy clothing) and be snug enough that you cannot pinch excess webbing.
3. Not securing the car seat in the vehicle properly
Seat belts (or the LATCH system) are intended to secure
car seats to the vehicle and must be locked
in place. Lap and shoulder belts in the back seat typically
lock by gently pulling the shoulder webbing
all the way out of the retractor to put it in “locked” mode.
Excess webbing is pulled tight and recessed
into the retractor.
4. Forgetting to register the car seat for recall
Car seats can be recalled by their manufacturer. By
registering your car seat, you will be notified if
something needs to be replaced or added to the car seat. Not
at recalls affect the safety of the car seat,
but they can. Make sure to label your car seat with
emergency contact information as well.
5. Having toys or other items unsecured in the vehicle
Anything not belted in or strapped down in a vehicle can
become a projectile in a crash.
Phones, diaper bags, toys and strollers are all potentially
dangerous if not secured.
6. Not using the lower anchors/LATCH system as approved
Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) is a
vehicle system that can be used to
secure the car seat, and is an alternative to the seat belt.
Lower Anchors do have weight
limits and are often designed to be used only in the outside
seating positions, not the center seat.
Most LATCH systems are also not designed to be used with a
seat belt. Check your car seat and
vehicle’s owner’s manuals before using the LATCH system.
7. Not using the top tether on a forward-facing car seat
The top tether of a car seat should be used for all
forward-facing car seat installations, whether
using the LATCH system or the seat belt. The top tether or
“top strap” keeps the top of the
car seat from moving too far forward in a crash.
8. Moving to the next car seat or booster seat too soon
With every seat graduation, children lose a level of
protection. The booster seat helps an adult
seat belt fit a child. Children should outgrow the height
and weight limits of their forward-facing
harness car seat before graduating to a booster seat.
Children are ready for the seat belt once
they are 4’9” and can sit correctly with the lap belt
crossing their hips and the shoulder belt
crossing their chest.