Commentary submitted by the Hamilton Co. Sheriff’s Office
With summer travel season coming, the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office wants area residents to know that we have three certified car seat technicians ready to assist with child safety seat questions. Car seat education and safety checks are a free service for the community. Using the appropriate seat for a child as well as properly installing a car seat is not difficult but does take some research and knowledge.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a child under the age of 13 is involved in a crash every 34 seconds in the United States. Correct car seat usage reduces the risk for death to infants by 71% and for toddlers by 54%. However, one study by NHTSA shows that 72% of car seats are not used correctly. As times have changed, so have car seats and the evolution of child safety seats is not always easy to keep up.
According to a 2012 NHTSA survey, the following are the five most significant and commonly observed mistakes made by parents and caregivers when using and installing car seats and booster seats:
1. Wrong harness slot used – The harness straps used to hold the child in the car seat were positioned either too low or too high;
2. Harness chest clip positioned over the abdomen rather than the chest or not used at all;
3. Loose car seat installation – The restraint system moved more than two inches side-to-side or front to back; anything more than one inch is too much.
4. Loose harness – More than two inches of total slack between the child and the harness strap; there should be no slack.
5. Seat belt placement was wrong – Lap belt resting over the stomach and/or shoulder belt on the child’s neck or face.
Child safety seat installation and inspection is a free service by the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office but an appointment is necessary. Our technicians will educate parents on the following:
- Selection—is the car seat right for the child’s height, weight, and development? Does it fit in the car? Is it easy to use correctly each and every time it is installed?
- Direction—should the child be forward or rear facing?
- Location—is the seat in the correct location in the car?
- Installation—is the seat secured correctly?
- Harnessing—is the child strapped in the seat securely?
If you would like to make an appointment to have your child’s car seat checked, call 773-1872. Be prepared to give the following information:
- Make, model, and year of the primary car
- Make, model, and year of the car seat (seats have expiration dates)
- New or used seat
- Child’s age, height, and weight