How to Make Sure Your Car Seat is Keeping Your Child Safe

Did you know that almost 80% of children are improperly restrained in vehicles according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (nhtsa)? Some of the most common mistakes parents make when restraining children in their cars include:

  • The child being too small for a lap or shoulder belt/Not placed in a child seat
  • Allowing the shoulder belt to be placed under the child’s arm
  • Improper or loose placement of child seat harness straps
  • Allowing harness straps to become twisted
  • Not connecting or improperly connecting chest clips

The good news is that these mistakes are avoidable. Careful attention to your child’s safety needs and your child seat’s manufacturer instructions can help you ensure that your child is as safe as can be.

Here are some tips for properly using your child seat:

  • Make sure that chest clips are at your child’s armpit level
  • Pull harness straps snug and make sure they’re straight
  • Never place a blanket or towel between your child and the straps
  • If your child seat is too wide, place rolled towels on each side of your child

Proper Placement of Your Child Seat


Most people know that child safety seats must never be placed in the front seat or in front of activated airbags, but did you know that there are other positioning concerns that could jeopardize your child’s safety?

Child seats come in two basic types: front-facing and rear facing. Typically, rear-facing seats are used for young children under the age of 1 or weighing less than 20 pounds.

If you are using a rear-facing seat for your child, make sure to never place the seat face forward. This can lessen the seat’s stability and security.

Another positioning concern involves the angle of the seat. Manufacturers will have different specifications for the angle at which a rear-facing child seat should be placed (usually around 45 degrees). Place the seat at an improper angle, and the seat can again become unstable.

Follow these basic instructions and be sure always to read the manufacturer’s instructions that come with your seat, and you can help ensure a safe ride for your child.

If you need more information about child safety seats and proper installation, visit www.safetycheck.org for information on state child passenger laws and child safety seat inspection locations.


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This article was written by SafeMotorist.com defensive driving staff writers and reviewed for accuracy by defensive driving instructors. All articles are based on current traffic laws and defensive driving practices. This article is intended for educational purposes only, and should not be taken as legal advice or literal interpretation of any specific traffic law.