A big part of our summer has been the addition of a new nephew. In August, my youngest brother had his first child, an adorable baby boy.
As we were sitting at the hospital, I was thinking back to my daughter’s birth. As young, inexperienced parents, we were trying to make sure that we did everything right to keep our daughter safe, including making sure that we had the best car seats to protect her while we were driving.
But car seats are like anything else —- they’re only as good as the operator. And about a month after our daughter was born, we figured out that we had been strapping her into her car seat wrong.
We’re not alone.
Seatcheck.org, a respected public service website, reports that 7 out of 10 kids in child safety seats are not properly buckled in.
That’s a problem. Studies unanimously find that motor vehicle crashes are the number 1 killer of kids, and a lot of that can be attributed to lack of use or improper use of child safety seats. That’s a particular problem for us in Texas, where we are usually neck and neck with California for the most number of child deaths from car wrecks.
Not surprising, child safety seats are remarkably effective at protecting kids. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that proper use of child safety seats can reduce the risk of fatality in infants by 71 percent and in toddlers by 54 percent. It’s so important, that the American Academy of Pediatrics has started recommending that doctors discuss car seat safety with parents at each visit.
If you have any questions about whether you’re using a car seat properly, find a free check in your area. A study in Pediatrics magazine found that this type of hands-on instruction can increase proper usage significantly.