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Car seat installation issues plague child safety efforts

Properly restraining children in age-appropriate car seats is critical to ensuring their safety during travel. However, child car seats have become so complex, heavy and difficult to install that many parents are unknowingly placing their sons and daughters in danger by installing them incorrectly. In other cases, parents become so frustrated with the complexity of newer seats that they choose to install older and less-safe seats instead.

It is vitally important for parents to purchase new, federally approved seats and seek assistance when installing them. Failure to do so could lead to preventable injury. When a young boy or girl is involved in an accident and must recover from serious injury suffered during childhood, the consequences of that injury may last a lifetime. Injury prevention through proper car seat installation is key to avoiding lifelong physical impairments as a result of accident-related injuries.

Many car dealerships, firefighter units, police stations and other community partners offer free car seat installation checks and assistance. Parents should seek out these resources each time their children grow into a new child safety seat. Federal statistics indicate that more children under the age of 13 die as a result of motor vehicle accidents than from any other cause. Taking the time to install car seats properly is therefore critical.

Parents who are skeptical that they might need such assistance should think twice. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, out of every four child safety seats installed in vehicles registered in the U.S., three are installed incorrectly and pose a safety hazard to the children that ride in them.

Source: New York Times, “Strapped In, but Still at Risk,” Stephanie Steinberg and Bill Vlasic, Oct. 11, 2013

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