Child passenger safety goes beyond proper seat installation
COLUMBUS – AAA is advising parents to take a closer look at their car seats. Old seats, crashes and recalls all compromise the safety of seats and lead to serious consequences.
Car crashes remain the leading cause of death for children, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In passenger cars, proper use of child safety seats reduce the risk of death by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers. This proper use extends beyond simply correct installation. Caregivers should be aware of the following:
Car Seats Expire:
Most car seats expire six years from the manufacture date because of possible deterioration or breakage of parts and the fact that older seats will often not meet current government safety standards. Manufacturers can’t guarantee that an expired seat will be strong enough to protect a child during a crash.
Keep in mind, six years is just a general guideline. Some newer seats are good for longer. Caregivers should always check the owner’s manual or the seat itself for the expiration date.
Car Crashes Render Seats Unsafe:
If a seat is involved in a car crash, even a minor one, it may need to be replaced because of possible breakdown of materials. Caregivers should call or visit the manufacturer’s website for specific instructions after a crash. Be sure to mention in the police report that the car seat (occupied or not) was in the vehicle at the time of the crash. Insurance companies will often cover the cost of a replacement seat.
Recalls May Pose Safety Concerns:
Manufacturers recall seats for a variety of reasons. Sometimes these recalls will have safety implications that jeopardize the seat’s ability to protect a child.
To receive recall notifications, caregivers should always register their seat with the manufacturer by sending in the postcard that came with it or by going to the manufacturer’s website and entering the model information found on the seat. If the seat is recalled, the manufacturer will notify the caregiver and provide replacement parts or a remedy to fix it.
AAA Ohio also keeps records of all the seats and model numbers inspected during seat checks at local stores. Technicians use these records to notify caregivers if a seat is recalled. Caregivers can also visit safercar.gov to search for the most recent recalls.
Harnessing is Just as Important as Installation:
During car seat checks, technicians not only inspect seat installation, they also educate caregivers on the proper way to harness a child. Correct harnessing depends on a child’s age, height, and weight, along with the seat direction.
Certified child passenger safety technicians will also check to see if a seat is expired or recalled, and advise caregivers on next steps.
AAA Ohio Auto Club offers free seat checks, by appointment, for all parents and caregivers at its stores. For more information and to find a location, visit AAA.com/ChildSafety.