Car accidents are the leading causes of death for children between the ages of one and thirteen, and, according to one government agency, parents may not be doing enough to prevent these deaths.

According to a National Highway Transportation Safety Administration website, three out of every four car seats are used incorrectly. Here are the most common car seat mistakes:

  • Turning the car seat too early. The rear-facing position is safer for little backs and necks. For maximum safety, children should remain rear-facing until they reach the weight limit for their car seat.
  • Placing the car seat in the front seat. The force of a front seat airbag can kill a young child. A rear seat is much safer.
  • Skipping the tether. This is one of the most common mistakes that parents make. Without the tether, the top of the car seat can tilt forward in an Iowa car crash causing serious injuries.
  • Using both the LATCH system and a seat belt. Seat belts and LATCH have not been tested together. Instead of offering twice the protection, you could be putting your child at risk of injury. Choose one or the other.
  • Using the wrong LATCH anchors. The LATCH system allows car seats to be firmly attached to metal rings on the rear seat without using a seat belt. However, not all cars have LATCH anchors in the middle position. Using window seat anchors to install a car seat in the middle position is not safe. If your car is missing these anchors, change the position of the seat or use the seat belt to install the car seat.
  • Not getting a tight enough fit. Once installed, the car seat should move no more than an inch in any direction. If your car seat is loose, put your knee in the seat and push down with your body weight. Then tighten the straps as much as possible.
  • Improper position of the harness straps. If your child is rear-facing, the straps should be threaded through the car seat at or below shoulder level. If your child is forward-facing, the straps should be threaded slightly above the shoulder. If straps aren’t properly fitted, your child could be ejected in a crash. So, check the straps periodically and adjust them as your child grows.
  • Not tightening the straps. The straps should fit tightly enough that you can’t put a finger between your child and the strap.
  • Using padded accessories, blankets, and thick coats. Putting thick layers between your child and the car seat straps will prevent the straps from fitting snugly. It may look cozy to add a plush car seat cover, but these accessories put your child at risk of injury.
  • Positioning the chest clip too high or too low. The chest clip should be at armpit level. Too high can cause injury to your child’s neck. Too low can cause injury to the abdomen. Low chest clips can also cause the straps to slip.

It is always a good idea to have your car seat installation checked by a professional. Child passenger safety seat checks are held on the second Thursday of each month beginning at McGrath Buick GMC Cadillac in Hiawatha. Call (319)-310-SEAT to schedule an appointment.

No matter how safe your car seat, you can’t prevent every Iowa car accident. If your child is injured by a reckless driver, you have the right to seek compensation on behalf of your child. To learn more, contact the Cedar Rapids car accident lawyers at Hupy and Abraham by calling 800-800-5678.

Jason F. Abraham
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Helping car accident and personal injury victims throughout Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa since 1993.