Avoid these common car seat mistakes

September 17, 2013 12:00 AM

As National Child Passenger Safety Week rolls on, it is important to highlight areas of vehicle maintenance and safety that parents will want to pay attention to. One such aspect is car seat safety. These devices are used by countless parents and caregivers across the nation, but they can be complicated, and for a tool that requires specificity, that's never a good thing. To help, AAA recently released a list of the Top 12 Car Seat Mistakes Parents Make

Not researching the seat
The Mayo Clinic reported that getting a car sear without researching its past is one of the biggest and most common mistakes parents can make. Specifically, you should do some digging to make sure the seat comes with instructions, shows the manufacture date and has an individual model number. The car seat should also not have been involved in a recall. 

Researching a product becomes especially important if you are reusing an old item. You should double check to see if there has been any damage to the product over time or if the manufacturer has issued a recall for any reason. Any product more than 6 years old may have outdated technology and safety features, and you would be better off investing for a new model instead. 

Attaching straps incorrectly
A car seat should be snugly installed in the proper place. Harness straps should be relatively tight against a child, while the chest clip needs to rest at armpit level. Drivers should also ensure the top tether, which restricts a forward-facing car seat from moving, is securely connected to the automobile. 

Adding unsafe toys
When driving around a young child, parents place a premium on entertainment. Extra padding, child's toys or mirrors are all common additions to car seats, but in most cases these devices have not been tested for safety. Without formal tests, there's no telling what kind of harm these accessories could cause. You're better off leaving them off the seat. 

Stop using the seat too early
Even drivers who do everything right with a car seat run the risk of stopping the use of the safety tool too early. Seatbelts are designed for adults - not children - and allowing kids to move out of a booster seat before they are ready can lead to injuries in the event of an accident. On average, children reach the right size to move out of a booster seat between the ages of 8 and 12. Before making the switch, you should allow professional at an auto repair franchise to examine the seat and seatbelts of a vehicle to see if they are functioning properly. 

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