How to avoid car seat confusion

Published On: Nov 15 2012 07:23:31 AM CST

If you are confused about your child's car seat, you are not alone.  

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), most parents, 73 percent install car seats wrong.  One in five parents do not even read the directions.  

Recent crash tests by the NHTSA gave top safety ratings to more safety seat models than ever before, but they only protect your child if you install them properly.

Car safety seat check stations are held around the country. Nationally certified car seat technicians teach parents the proper way to install the seats for free.

"A lot of times there are just so many little details to look at that it gives just some great piece of mind they come here and know that it's done properly," said safety expert Emile Crown.

"Not being properly belted in can be the difference between a child having no injuries and a child frankly having very severe injuries," said David Strickland, NHTSA Administrator.

Getting children properly belted is confusing. The safest seat depends on the weight and height of your child.  There is also rear-facing, forward-facing, and booster seats.  How all these seats hook into different models of cars is staggering.  Regulations and safety standards have changed over the years.

"Every time you introduce new technology you introduce new ways to misuse new seats," said Crown.

One way to get a seat that fits with your car is to check with your car's manufacturer.  It might suggest which car seat to buy.

You can also figure out if your child is in the right seat by visiting NHTSA's website at www.nhtsa.gov/Safety/CPS.

You can also find more on car seats, boosters and seat belt safety from Safe Kids USA at www.safekids.org.

To find the child seat inspection station nearest you visit, http://icsw.nhtsa.gov/cps/cpsfitting/.

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