NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Car crashes are the number one killer of children — and it’s mostly because they’re not buckled up properly.
This is Child Passenger Safety Week and 10 On Your Side went out to AAA Tidewater to find out what parents are doing wrong, and how to do it right.
AAA Tidewater’s Vice President of Pubic Relations, Georjeanne Blumling, touts four focus points when it comes to car seat safety: size, installation, location and direction.
“One of the things we see parents doing all the time is what we call early graduation,” she said.
The right size seat is usually a carrier style for infants and a larger five point harness for kids in the 4-to 8-year-old range.
Booster seats should be used on older children until the lap belt sits low on the hips, not the waist, and the shoulder strap doesn’t ride up on the neck.
“We see as much as 90% of child safety seats that are misinstalled,” she told WAVY.com.
Proper installation is paramount.
“The major thing we see is the angle is incorrect, so it’s not sitting at this 45 degrees, and the child is not strapped in snugly as it needs to be,” Blumbling said.
You should not be able to pinch the harness around the baby and the seat mustn’t move more than an inch on either side when you move it down near the seat belt.
As for location, Blumling says the center of the back seat is always the safest from crash dynamic, but the seat can be put on either side if it’s done correctly.
Finally she points to direction, as in in which way the seat should face. As of July 1, 2019, Virginia law requires rear facing until at least age 2.
“A lot of times parents are like ‘oh they’re feet are up against the seat,’ they have to sit cross legged, but that doesn’t bother children at all. They are much more flexible than we are as an adult.”
In fact, she said the longer they face the back the better.
AAA and others do offer assistance and free car seat checks upon request but Blumling said, “We do ask that parents try it themselves, though it’s important.”
The best way to do it right is to read your vehicle manual and the car seat manual.
Boost ‘Em in the Back Seat also offers resources to help you determine when your child is big enough to move into a bigger seat or sit without one.