A car accident can become much more costly if you have passengers in the vehicle. When those passengers are young children or babies, any injuries they suffer can have life-long repercussions. Unfortunately, car seats are often installed improperly, putting these precious passengers at serious risk.
Here are some of the most common problems with car seat installation.
Rear-Facing or Forward-Facing Car Seats?
One of the most widespread problems with installing car seats is whether to have it face backwards or forwards. The source of this confusion, unfortunately, has been uncertainty from doctors and safety experts.
After years of waffling, experts seem to have decided that keeping children in rear-facing car seats for as long as possible is the best way to keep them safe. This means to keep the child in a rear-facing car seat until they reach either the height or weight limit for the seat. If your child hits these milestones before turning two years old, the recommendation is to buy a seat with higher limits and keep the child rear-facing until they are met, too.
Reclining Rear-Facing Car Seats
When it comes to car seats that face backwards, towards the trunk of the car, the most common installation mistake is improper recline.
According to a 2015 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), out of rear-facing car seats that were inspected, 16% of infant car seats and 12% of convertible seats did not have enough recline. According to the NHTSA, the best practice is to tilt rear-facing car seats between 30 and 45 degrees. Approximately one in six, though, were too flat in the backseat to keep the child safe in a car crash.
Loose Car Seats Unsafe in Car Crash
The NTHSA study also found that 17% of forward-facing car seats were too loose to protect a child in an accident. The car seats have harness and tethers that limit how far forward they can move in a car collision. You can test how effective these straps will be by pushing the car seat from the side, into the middle of the car. A correctly installed car seat will not shift more than an inch.
Booster Seats and Seatbelts
Finally, the NHTSA found that around one in ten booster seat installations made the lap belt unsafe for the child being restrained. Booster seats are made to make a child tall enough for the seatbelt system to work. However, many parents still pull the lap belt across their child’s abdomen or ribcage, rather than their hips, minimizing the effectiveness of the seatbelt.
St. Joseph Car Accident Attorneys at the Smith Law Office
Properly restraining your child in a car seat or booster seat can prevent them from getting hurt in a car accident. A poorly-installed car seat can not only increase the odds of them getting hurt in a crash; it can also reduce your child’s ability to recover compensation in a subsequent personal injury lawsuit through Missouri’s comparative negligence rule.