3 out of 4 Car Seats Installed Wrong

Installing a car seat for your child may seem like a simple task, but it should be taken very seriously. These devices keep children safe in vehicles, and it’s scary to think that roughly 75% of car seats could be installed improperly.

AAA shares the top six car seat installation mistakes:

1. Not using a safety seat.

Safety seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Additionally, using a booster seat with a seat belt for older children reduces the risk of injury by 59 percent.

2. Not reading safety seat instructions.

With so many parents incorrectly installing car seats, it’s important to read the seat’s manual, as well as the car’s owner manual.

3. Using restraints for older children too soon.

Toddlers should not be turned face forward until they are at least two and the maximum weight for the seat, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Children under age 13 should sit in the back seat.

4. Installing safety seats too loosely.

A properly installed car seat should not move more than 1 inch in any direction. You should use your car’s seat belt or LATCH system to secure a safety seat, but not both (unless stated by the manufacturers).

5. Adjusting seat harnesses incorrectly.

According to AAA, “Safety seat harnesses should always be snug and lie flat without twists. Harnesses should be at or below the child’s shoulders when rear-facing and at or above the shoulders when forward-facing in order to hold the child’s body upright and against the seat. The chest clip should be positioned at armpit level.”

6. Keeping loose items in vehicle.

Secure all loose items in a car, including purses, umbrellas, groceries, etc. If you are forced to make a sudden stop, these items could harm a child.

Here’s some tips from the NHTSA:

  • Determine if your child is in the right seat for his or her age and size;
  • Read the instructions and labels that come with your child’s car seat and read the vehicle owner’s manual for important information on installing the seat in your particular vehicle;
  • Go to your local car seat inspection station to have your seat checked by a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician;
  • Use the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) restraint system or seat belt to install your car seat and use the top tether to secure forward-facing car seats;
  • Register your car seat and booster seat at SaferCar.gov so you will be informed if there is a safety recall on your model; and
  • Always wear your seat belt to set a good example. Unbuckled drivers are more likely to have unrestrained children in the car.

What are the biggest mistakes that you think people make with car seats?