Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of injuries and fatalities in children. Many of these injuries can be prevented, but OVER 75% OF CAR SEATS ARE USED OR INSTALLED INCORRECTLY. In some places, that number is as high as 95%.
What goes wrong? The car seat is not fastened tightly enough to the car. The child is not strapped in tightly enough. Clips, straps, or the seat itself is in the wrong position. The child is advanced to the next level of restraint too soon. Not all car seats will fit all cars. That’s why it’s important to get your car seat checked.
Even if you can’t make it on Seat Check Saturday, you can find a nearby certified technician who will check your seat for free at http://www.nhtsa.gov/Safety/CPS.
Wisconsin law states that ALL passengers are supposed to be restrained regardless of age or position in a car. Straps should be at or BELOW the shoulders for rear-facing children. You must be BOTH 1 year old AND at least 20 lbs to face the front. Straps should be at or ABOVE the shoulders for forward-facing children. You must be BOTH 4 years old AND at least 40 lbs to sit in a booster seat. Booster seats help to position children so that they fit appropriately under a lap/shoulder belt (which is why booster seats are not appropriate for airplanes).
Children are not required to use a booster seat when they are 8 years old, OR they are at least 4 years old and over 57 inches, OR they are at least 4 years old and over 80 lbs. However, when graduating from a booster seat, the child should be able to sit up against the seatback with knees bent comfortably at the edge of the seat. In this position, the seat belt should be over the collarbone and hips, NOT the neck or belly. Children who move out of booster seats prematurely are at increased risk of internal injuries from the seat belt or even ejection from the car.
For more about child seat laws in Wisconsin, see http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/safety/vehicle/child/docs/booster-seat-law-facts.pdf. Check back tomorrow when I’ll post additional important car seat safety facts!