FILED IN: Safety

Proper use of car seats growing

Caregivers are doing a better job of restraining their children in vehicles according to the NHTSA. Photo via BoArthur's photostream/Flickr commons.

One year ago the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration updated its child-safety seat guidelines, and the reception was not universally positive. Many parents initially complained about the “confusing” nature of the new regulations, and several remained unsure of when to change their children from a car seat to a booster seat, and even less certain of when to drop the safety devices altogether. However, continued education from the NHTSA and other organizations, including a multitude of public service announcements, has led to excellent progress.

Jill Ingrassia, the Managing Director of Government Relations at AAA, had excellent things to say about the adoption of the new car seat guidelines.

“Parents are getting the message that moving a child to the next step prematurely is actually a downgrade in safety.” She went on to say, “Children should remain in their car or booster seat until they outgrow it.”

A new AAA survey shows that over 70% of parents are now aware of the recommendations, and 77% of parents claimed that their children were already compliant or sitting in safety seats that exceeded the recommendations. The number was significantly higher when focused exclusively on children under 2, with 82% of surveyed parents saying they met or exceeded the guidelines.

Those parents that are not meeting the guidelines listed several reasons, including not feeling comfortable with the new system or believing that the new recommendations are too strict. Others complained that their children were uncomfortable or too restricted in the safety harnesses.

It’s important to remember that safety belts are designed with adults in mind, and no place in the car is safe for a child outside of a safety seat until they reach 4 foot 9 inches tall, although laws differ from state to state, parents are encouraged to check their child safety seat laws in their area.

Ingrassia went on to say, “Graduating a child from a booster seat too soon may result in injury, or even death, in the event of a crash.”

Parents with questions or concerns should visit www.NHTSA.gov