Safe Kids USA has released new data that shows while parents are improving in their use of child safety restraint systems in vehicles, the nation still has a long ways to go when it comes to protecting kids in cars.
Using data from 79,000 child safety seat inspections, the safety group found that just one-third of parents were using a "top-tether" forward-facing safety seat. This type of restraint hooks to an anchor in the car and prevents head movement during a crash. Despite being widely available on nearly every car seat and compatible with all vehicles, it's still rarely used.
Even those that did use the top tether only had it correctly fastened 90 percent of the time. Other common mistakes included transitioning a child to a forward-facing seat too early. The group recommends that babies remain in rear-facing seats until they reach about 40 pounds.
"With parents across the country relying on child safety seats to protect their children as they go about their daily routines, it's critical that we ensure these devices are properly installed in every vehicle and on every trip," said David Strickland, NHTSA Administrator.
Besides ensuring that their children are safely buckled into their seats, parents also need to pay attention to the maintenance of their vehicle. Things like properly inflating tires and staying up-to-date on vehicle inspections can reduce the risk of a mechanical failure leading to an accident on the highway.