Car seats protect our youngest and most vulnerable passengers from harm in the event of an accident or collision. Smaller bodies are much more likely to slip out of seat belts, or wiggle around in a seat, or fly forward on impact, and car seats are a safe, reliable way to ensure that your child is securely fastened no matter what happens on the road. Car accident attorneys in Fort Lauderdale report that, in most crashes, the risk of injury to a child passenger is largely mitigated by the correct usage of a car seat. However, many injuries to young passengers are also much more severe due to incorrect use or installation of a car seat.
According to research conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 70% of all child car seats and boosters are improperly installed and used. An improperly used car seat is just as dangerous as not using one, because often, parents do not know that their child is unsecured in the car, and are not expecting injury, forward momentum, or other complications in an accident.
Car seats should be buckled into a seat tightly, with the seat belt securely fastened. If the car seat can be used forward or backwards-facing, parents should be sure to check the manual for the appropriate direction based on a child’s age, and use the correct slots for the seat belt. All car seats that were manufactured from 2002 to the present are secured using the LATCH system—Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children. The LATCH system is not required for bigger children, or for booster seats, but it is mandatory for all child safety seats and cars with this feature. If a vehicle does not have a LATCH system, experts recommend using the seat belt, but warn parents not to use both LATCH and seat belt at the same time.
Car seats should be installed and then tested before taking your child for a ride. The seat belt should only move about an inch on either side once it is properly buckled. If it slides more than an inch front to back or side to side, the belt is too loose, and will not safely hold your child or the seat. A local car inspection station can help you properly install your seat belt and double-check your work before you leave for a long trip, install your first car seat, or change models. A car inspection station in your area can be found at www.safercar.gov.
Every car seat has an expiration date, usually anywhere from five to nine years from the date that the seat was manufactured. Because this can be vastly different from the date of purchase, car accident lawyers in Fort Lauderdale recommend that parents pay close attention to the expiration date on the car seat, especially if they are planning on using one seat lasting through more than one child. These dates are usually printed in the car seat’s user guide, or on the seat itself, and ensure that car seats are replaced about as often as standards and safety features change with technology and crash statistics.
At the Law Offices of David I Fuchs, a car accident attorney in Fort Lauderdale, we know that car accidents are sometimes out of a parent’s control, and the most we can do to keep kids safe is to raise awareness about car seat safety. If your child is injured in a car accident, contact David Fuchs today for a free consultation.