Common car-seat mistakes can have deadly consequences. With 59 percent of child car seats installed incorrectly, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is encouraging motorists to take advantage of “National Seat Check Saturday” on Sept. 23, with nearly 100 free car-seat safety checks planned throughout the state and listed at BuckleUpIllinois.org.
The public is encouraged to consider getting their car seats checked and talk with a certified child passenger safety technician about the common mistakes to avoid.
As part of National Child Passenger Safety Week, IDOT and AAA are highlighting eight common car-seat mistakes:
1. Turning the child forward facing too soon.
2. Not adjusting the harness snugly against the child.
3. Not securing the car seat in the vehicle properly.
4. Forgetting to register the car seat for recall notifications.
5. Having toys or other items unsecured in the vehicle.
6. Not using the lower anchors/LATCH system as approved.
7. Not using the top tether on a forward-facing car seat.
8. Moving to the next car seat or booster seat too soon.
While Illinois law states a child must be in an appropriate car seat or booster seat until their 8th birthday, most 8-year-old children are not tall enough for the seat belt to fit them correctly. These children need to stay in a booster seat until they are at least 4-feet, 9-inches tall. Additionally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that about 26 percent of children ages 4 to 7 are moved to seat belts too soon, when they should have been riding in booster seats. In Illinois, not only are children are required to be in a car seat or booster seat until at least age 8, all children younger than 13 should ride in the back seat.
NHTSA recommends keeping children rear-facing as long as possible up to the top height or weight allowed by their particular seats. Once a child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, he or she is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness and top tether. After outgrowing his or her car seat, the child should be placed in a booster seat.
For more information about the proper use of car seats and booster seats, visit BuckleUpIllinois.org/8carseatmistakes.