baby-car-seatVehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children 3-14 years of age. Makes you stop to think, doesn’t it? Not just about how you drive, but about what kind of protection you offer your littlest passengers.

We all know how important it is for our children to buckle up when we’re in the car, no matter what age. But with Child Passenger Safety Week upon us, it’s really important to take a few minutes to ask ourselves just how safe our babies and toddlers are in their seats.

The honest answer: not as safe as we think.

Safe Kids USA just released their latest statistical report entitled: “A Look Inside American Family Vehicles: National Study of 79,000 Car Seats, 2009?2010.” The study found that not only are car seats being installed incorrectly, parents are often moving their children up from one type car seat to another before it’s appropriate.  Retailers say you lose a little more protection as you move up from the infant seat all the way to the booster seat, so it’s not wise to switch out before you must.

One specific finding in the study dealt with top tethers (the buckle that goes over the back of a forward-facing car seat that the car seat is sitting upon). It was shown that top tethers were being used less than one-third of the time a baby or child was in position. Also, those parents who did use a top tether strap used it correctly only 59 percent of the time.

It’s easy to see why they’re not installed right. It can be complicated to know where what straps go and how tight they need to be.

But you can get help. As part of Child Passenger Safety Week, certified child passenger safety technicians will hold car seat events across the country on Saturday, September 24th, and offer advice and instruction. To locate a car seat inspection station by you, visit: http://www.nhtsa.gov/cps/cpsfitting/index.cfm.

Meantime, join us on Monday night for the TravelingMom.com Twitter Party “Traveling with Babies” on September 19th.  Click here for details.
You can also click this link to read about other suggested safety tips for children in car seats, and sign the Buckle Up Pledge, promising to keep everyone in your vehicle buckled.