How many car seat safety answers did you get right?
1. When does car seat safety begin?
Many people think you don’t need to worry about car safety until after the baby is born. Actually a child in the womb is at 5 times the risk of a newborn in a car crash (Evans and Redelmeier, 2015). So it stands to reason that one should begin taking precautions to keep their baby safe in the car during pregnancy. Research shows by the end of your first trimester the baby is in front of the protection of your pelvic bone structure.
To start you need to wear your seat belt properly positioned and tilt the steering wheel more toward your chest than your belly. For optimum protection, consider using a crash tested positioner to keep the seat belt in a safe position for your baby during pregnancy. These positioners are not all engineered to meet crash-test standards like car seats are so be sure to research the safest pregnancy seat belt positioner.
2. I selected my child’s car seat based on…
If you picked C, you’re one hot safety mom!
Many parents do pick the car seat based on the fabric. And that is OK as long as you already know the car seats you are choosing from are appropriate for your child’s stage and size, you tried it in your car and know it fits, and you are confident in your ability to install it correctly. (See answer 6, it’s still a good idea to have it checked to be sure or get extra tips.)
While more expensive seats may have more bells and whistles and perhaps some features that could possibly increase safety, the bottom line is all seats on the market in the U.S. have to meet the same strict federal safety standards. There really is no “bad” car seat on the market as long as it is a legal car seat for the US and you are able to use it correctly.
3. I installed my child’s car seat…
Did you say A? Yay!
The rear center seat is technically the safest one in the car because it’s farthest away from any impact. But not all car seats are compatible with all center seats. If your car seat cannot be properly installed in the center, it is OK to have it in one of the “outboard” rear seats. Have more than one child? Take heart, as long as your child is in the back seat, any seating position (and proper install) will be safe for your precious cargo.
4. It’s safest to use both LATCH and the seat belt to install the car seat; after all the more, the better.
Hmmm, no. False.
With the exception of a very few seats (check your manual to see if your seat is one of these), car seats should never be installed with both the lower anchors and the seat belt at the same time.
LATCH was developed in hopes of easier use and more correct installations by parents. However, both lower anchors (part of the LATCH system) and the seat belt are equally safe to install a car seat when used properly. As your child grows, remember, the lower anchors have a weight limit, so check your vehicle and car seat manuals before installation.
5. After I get the harness on my child in the car seat, I tighten it until…
Answered B? Ding, ding, ding, you are a winner!
We hear from parents all the time that their baby doesn’t like the harness straps too tight. As parents our job is to keep our children as safe as possible. Sometimes that’s whether or not they like it. The car seat harness straps need to be snug enough on your child that you are unable to pinch the excess material between your fingers.
6. I know I installed my car seat correctly because…
Did I see a C in your mind? High five! You can drive with confidence.
You first step in installing your car seat should be to review the car seat manual and your car owner’s manual. But like I said in the intro to the quiz, many parents think they are doing it right, but fewer are actually using their car seat correctly. And those who don’t have it right, are making an average of 3 car seat safety mistakes. Since there is a discrepancy, the best way to ensure proper installation of a car seat is to have it checked by a certified child passenger safety technician, aka car seat expert. While your friendly firefighter neighbor may be more than willing to help you out, not all firefighters are properly trained in the ways of the car seat.
7. Because I know it can happen to anyone, to make sure I remember my child is in the car I…
There had to be at least one D, all of the above!
Yup, these are all good ideas to help remind you of your baby in the back seat. Because while we all think, who could do that? The real answer is, you. You could do that.
That’s right! Most of the average 38 left in car deaths every year are your typical, educated parent who is maybe overtired and over stressed (aren’t we all?) and perhaps doing something outside of their normal routine.
For instance, Mom is sick so Dad is taking Baby to day care on the way to work. But Dad goes straight to work and forgot that Baby was in the car. It was easy to forget, Baby had a hard night too and fell asleep as soon as the car started moving. No one called when Baby didn’t show…. You get the point. It’s actually a common story.
8. When can my child move to just the seatbelt?
Got C? You rock, Mama!
Car seat laws differ depending on what state you are in. But following the car seat safety laws, doesn’t necessarily (actually very unlikely) mean that you are following the safest recommendations. Moving a child to just the seat belt based on age or weight because that’s what the law says means you’ll likely move your child to just the seat belt too early.
This can be dangerous because the seat belt doesn’t properly fit your child and your child is much more likely to sustain injuries during a crash. So when do you move your child to just a seat belt? When your child can pass the 5-step seat belt fit test in your car. Keep a booster or RideSafer handy in case your child doesn’t pass the 5-step seat belt fit test in other cars yet.
9. When can my child sit in the front seat?
If you choose B, you are on it!
The crash energy is significantly higher for front seat passengers, children may not always sit properly and be in the airbag deployment zone at the time of a crash, and prior to puberty, the bones are not developed enough to properly hold the seat belt and withstand the crash energy. It’s safest for children to ride in the back seat for as long as possible. We suggest waiting until a child is at least 13 years old before they get to ride shot gun.
Did you get them all right? Congratulations! Your little ones are in good hands.
Go back to our car seat safety quiz to share it.
By Amie Durocher, Creative Director at Safe Ride 4 Kids and certified CPS Tech since 2004
Copyright 2021 Safe Ride 4 Kids. All rights reserved. You may not publish, broadcast, rewrite or redistribute this material without permission. You are welcome to link to Safe Ride 4 Kids or share on social media.
We originally published this post in January 2018. We updated the article for accuracy and comprehensiveness.