Is Your Child in the Right Car Seat?

3 Easy Ways to Verify Your Child is in the Safest Car Seat

According to the Centers for Disease Control, car crash deaths among children under age 13 have decreased by 43% in the past decade. But there’s still a long way to go - in 2011, 655 children under 13 were killed in crashes, and of those killed, 33% were not buckled up.

That’s why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration puts on Child Passenger Safety Week, a public awareness campaign to make sure parents and guardians have their children in the right car seat, installed correctly, and used on every trip. This year’s campaign begins on September 14 and ends with Seat Check Saturday on September 20.

Here are three ways you can make sure your child is seated safely in your car!

1. Choose the right seat based on your child’s height and weight.

Does your child need a rear-facing seat, a forward-facing seat, or a booster seat? The answer is based on your child’s height and weight, and how the seat fits their body.

The NHTSA provides helpful guidelines in a printable infographic available here. You’ll also need to have your car seat user manual handy to know the manufacturer’s height and weight limits.

2. Take advantage of the Seat Check on Saturday, September 20th.

Certified technicians are available at events across the country to inspect your car seat, and show you how to correctly install and use it. Use the NHTSA’s Inspection Station Locator to find an inspection station near you.

No Seat Check Saturday events in your area? Try searching for an individual technician and booking an appointment. Seat checks are often free of charge, but you may need to make an appointment several weeks in advance.

Before your appointment, install the seat in your vehicle according to the manufacturer’s instructions and your vehicle owner’s manual. Bring these documents with you to your appointment.

If your child is already born, bring them with you, and know their current weight and height. The National Child Passenger Safety Certification program also recommends bringing another adult who can help watch the child while you focus on learning. If you’re getting ready for a baby who’s still on the way, you can schedule an appointment a month or two before your due date.

3. Register your car seat or booster seat.

Whenever the NHTSA finds that a motor vehicle or any motor vehicle safety equipment doesn’t comply with federal safety standards, a product recall may occur in order to fix the problem. Manufacturers are required to notify you of a recall.

Car seat manufacturers are required to notify you whenever there is a recall. It’s essential to register your car seat to make sure they can reach you with this information.

You can register through your manufacturer’s website, or by filling out and mailing in the postcard that came with the seat.

If you hear about a recall, first find out if your model and manufacture date is involved. Then contact the manufacturer for more information, and follow their instructions to get the problem fixed right away.

Looking for More Information on Vehicle Safety for Children?

There’s a lot to be aware of when driving with or around kids. Check out NHTSA’s In and Around the Car page for more information.