AURORA, Ill., Sept. 17, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Thirty years after the enactment of Illinois' first child safety seat law, marked progress with caregivers striving to learn proper car seat installation, improvements in car seat technology and the dedicated work of safety advocates are saving thousands of children's lives. Still today, installing a car seat correctly remains a difficult task for parents and caregivers and consequently, 3 out of 4 car seats are improperly used or installed. AAA has identified 12 mistakes that are most frequently made when installing and using car seats, which range from children moving out of car seats too soon to loose items being kept in the car, which may be dangerous to passengers in a crash.
To help parents better understand and combat these mistakes, AAA, the Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and Illinois Head Start have joined forces for Seat Check Saturday (Saturday, September 21), part of National Child Passenger Safety Week to offer 88 free seat check events across Illinois. Parents and caregivers will be able to get advice and hands-on safety seat inspections. A list of dates and locations can be found at buckleupillinois.org.
"Illinois has made great strides in keeping its children safe on the roadways," said Brad Roeber, regional president of AAA Chicago. "But, there are still some parents who need assistance to ensure Illinois children are safely buckled up. We encourage these and all parents to take advantage of Seat Check Saturday as AAA wants the roads to be safe for even the youngest travelers."
On Seat Check Saturday, car seat technicians will be helping parents understand and correct these top 12 mistakes most frequently made when installing and using car seats:
- Moving out of a booster seat too soon – Seat belts are designed to fit adults, not children. Depending on a child's growth and development, a seat belt typically fits properly (lap belt across the hips and shoulder belt across the chest and collarbone) between the ages of 8 and 12.
- Not installing the car seat tight enough – The car seat should not move side to side or front to back with more than an inch of 'wiggle room' at the belt path.
- Harness straps are too loose – Harness should be snug enough (with no gaps or twists) to keep the child restrained in the event of a crash.
- Retainer clip (or chest clip) is too low – The retainer clip needs to be at armpit level to secure the child in the event of a crash.
- Turning child forward facing too soon – A child should remain rear facing until they are two years old to maximize safety in the event of a crash.
- Allowing a child under 13 to ride in the front seat – Younger children are not typically large enough to ride safely in the front seat and can be seriously injured by front air bags in the event of a crash.
- Forgetting the top tether – Without the top tether, which is a strap that connects the forward facing car seat to the car and restricts the top of the seat from moving forward in a crash, a child's head and neck could be subjected to excessive forward movement in a sudden stop or crash.
- Adding additional padding, toys or mirrors to a child's car seat – Using products that have not been tested with the car seat may interfere with how the seat was designed to perform in a crash. Additionally, loose items can become dangerous projectiles in a crash.
- Installing a car seat using LATCH in the center rear position of a vehicle (when not permitted by the manufacturer) – Most vehicles do not support LATCH in the center rear seats. Always use the vehicle's owner's manual to determine which vehicle seats support LATCH.
- Transporting unsecured, heavy items, including pets, in the vehicle – These items can become a dangerous projectile in the car and seriously injure passengers.
- Installing a car seat using both LATCH and a seat belt – It's one or the other as these systems often work against each other in the event of a crash.
- Wearing bulky coats/sweaters while buckled into a car seat – Bulky coats can create slack in the harness system – always buckle the child first and then place blankets over them for warmth.
"Every child in Illinois depends on their parents for their safety," said Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider. "IDOT works diligently each day to further improve our effective child passenger program by providing parents and caregivers with the most current information on car seat safety. Our most important job is to help ensure our loved ones travel safely on state roadways."
AAA Chicago is part of The Auto Club Group (ACG), the second largest AAA club in North America. ACG and its affiliates provide membership, travel, insurance and financial services offerings to approximately 8.5 million members across 11 states and two U.S. territories, including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois, Minnesota and a portion of Indiana. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with nearly 53 million members in the United States and Canada. Its mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety.
SOURCE AAA Chicago