Each year, one week in September is designated as Child Passenger Safety Week and this year it falls from September 13th through the 19th. In conjunction with this safety week, Saturday, September 19, 2015 is National Car Seat Check Saturday, a reminder for parents in the Valley and across the nation to review their children’s safety seats and to verify that they are installed and used in an appropriate manner.
In anticipation of these coming events, AAA of Arizona has released a list of some of the common mistakes that Phoenix parents make when it comes to purchasing, installing, and using car seats and ways to avoid those errors. Some common mistakes on AAA’s list include the following:
– Installing the seat too loosely: All car seats vary to some degree but all must pass the same safety standards and therefore they have some commonalities among them. When it comes to installing a car seat, the manufacturer’s instructions should be followed but parents should know that a car seat should not be able to move more than one inch from side to side, regardless of whether a LATCH system is used or whether the seat is installed with a seat belt. Allowing to car seat to be too loose in the vehicle can cause it to move significantly in the event of a crash, providing a child with less protection than is desirable and increasing the risk of injuries or death to the minor.
– Using a side seat when the center seat is available: Not all car seats can be placed in the center of the back seat of a car. Some have LATCH belts that are too short to reach the lower anchors associated with a middle seat and therefore must be placed on one of the sides. But if your car and your chosen car seat can allow for placement of the car seat in the middle, you should utilize that seat as the middle is the safest place for a child. If the middle is impossible for use, consider placing your child in the rear seat behind the driver as there will be slightly more protection there in the event that the car is struck while making a left-hand turn.
– Toys and other non-essential items: Some parents install a car seat to the manufacturer’s standards but then make the seat and the area around the child unsafe by adding toys and gadgets. It can be tempting to hang toys, mirrors, and other items that offer entertainment and distraction near a child but that temptation should be avoided if the items will be in the path of a child in the event of a collision. Instead, keep the area immediately around a car seat clear of all types of non-essential items and consider another way to keep your child busy, like music.
– Failing to follow guidelines regarding car seats and boosters: Car seats and boosters are required for all children in Arizona until they reach eight years old or four feet, nine inches. But it is important to realize that moving a child to a new seat before he or she meets the requirements of that seat can be incredibly dangerous and can lead to significant injuries in the event of a crash. In fact, AAA of Arizona reports that a rear-facing car seat, which is recommended until at least age two, is more than 500 percent safer than a similar seat which has been turned forward-facing because of the additional support it provides to a child’s head and neck. Therefore, for safety’s sake, keep your children in the appropriate seat or booster based on your child’s age and size. Resist the urge to turn your child forward-facing before two years of age, and follow all instructions regarding your child’s safety seat.
If you have a young child who utilizes a car seat or a booster, consider visiting one of the many entities that offer free car seat checks to make sure everything is installed properly and that your child is restrained in the safest manner possible. Note that many areas around Phoenix will be increasing their availability to perform checks on National Car Seat Check Saturday with some offering drive-by screenings, eliminating the need for parents to wait or even exit their vehicles.
If you have questions or concerns regarding your child’s safety in a vehicle, make sure you address them with your child’s pediatrician who can discuss the optimal settings for your family.
It is important that adults take the time to ensure the safety of young children so that serious injuries can be prevented as much as possible if a car accident does occur. Tragically, though, children in Phoenix continue to be injured every year in collisions and in many cases it has nothing to do with the conduct of his or her parent prior to the crash.
If your child was involved in a car crash that left her injured, call the lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. today and let us provide you with a free, no-obligation case consultation regarding your legal options and potential remedies. We have an attorney available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to take your call toll free at (855) PHX-LAWYER and we always keep the content of the case consultation confidential.
If you have questions or if you need help, know that the injury team at Abels & Annes, P.C. is standing by now to give you the assistance you deserve.
Prior Blog Entry:
Majority of American Drivers are Unaware of New Automobile Safety Technology, Phoenix Injury Lawyer Blog, published September 10, 2015.
Three-Quarters of Arizona Parents Install Car Seats Incorrectly, AAA Arizona, published September 9, 2015.