3 out of 4 child car seats used incorrectly – things you MUST know

I admit, I was one of those parents that hated leaving the house because my child would refuse to sit in the car seat, she used to cry blue murder and it became uncomfortable for everyone traveling. At one stage, I thought car seats weren’t important but now I realised what a stupid I was! I put my child’s life in danger!

I’m so glad it’s become law because now parents have no option but to do it which will force them to be more safe on the roads because unfortunately we live in a country were very few follow the rules of the road. When I received the statistics, I knew it would be a MUST share on my blog because like many first time parents, I didn’t know the different car seats and how important it is to buy the age appropriate one.

Recent US research, according to Safe Kids Worldwide, reveals that many parents are not using their children’s car seats properly. In fact, 1 out of every 4 parents admits to not buckling their children in on every single car trip.

This Mom still needs to use the diagonal belt before this child car seat is fitted properly
This mom still needs to use the diagonal belt before this child car seat is fitted properly.

“According to UNICEF, road accidents are the leading cause of preventable deaths in children under five years old in South Africa,” explains 1st for Women Insurance’s Executive Head, Robyn Farrell, adding, “The Road Traffic Management Corporation says that we have more than 700 000 crashes a year with three children dying a day on our roads. In our country, a child is twenty times more likely to die on our roads than anywhere else in the world. The simple truth is that if car seats were used safely and correctly, many of these deaths could be avoided.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 3 out of 4 safety seats are used incorrectly. “It’s your duty to educate yourself. Remember that height and weight are the important factors, not the age of the child,” says Farrell.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the use of a car seat reduces the risk for death to infants by 71% and to toddlers (aged 1–4 years) by 54% in passenger vehicles. Booster seats use reduces the risk for serious injury by 45% for children aged 4–8 years when compared with seat belt use alone.

“Your child needs to be at least 145 cm tall before you can stop using the booster seat,” says Farrell.

Invest in a safety seat that’s convenient to use and make buckling your child into it an ingrained habit.

“Using the car seats properly will make the difference between life and death in an accident. A one-time lapse can result in a lifetime of regret,” concludes Farrell.

1st for Women offers some additional car seat safety tips:

car seat safety

  1. Buy the best car seat you can afford. Beware of bargains, old and secondhand car seats. They may have some unseen damage.
  2. If you must use a secondhand seat, make sure it has the original instructions, all its parts (check the manual), hasn’t been in a serious accident or recalled. Stick with car seats that are less than five years old. There’s usually an expiration date on the seat.
  3. Always double-check the car seat’s label to ensure it’s the right one for your child’s age, weight and height.
  4. Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible – at least until the age of 2 or until he/she reaches the seat’s maximum rear-facing height and weight limits.
  5. Your child should ride in a safety seat with a five-point harness until he/she weighs at least 18.5 kg, or until his shoulders no longer fit under the harness straps.
  6. Your child should ride in a booster seat from the time he/she weighs 18.5 kg and is at least 4 years old until he/she’s 4 feet 9 inches tall and at least 8 years old.
  7. Make sure your seat is installed correctly.
  8. Check to be sure that car seats don’t tip forward or slide from side to side more than an inch, and that boosters are secured with a lap-and-shoulder belt.
  9. Make sure yourchildis secured in the seat properly by ensuring that the car seat harness straps are snug enough to hold your childfirmlyin the event of an accident.
    Chicco Car seats South Africa
    Source: Chicco South Africa
  10. Buckle your child in, making sure the harness straps aren’t twisted, and then use the mechanism to pull the harness tight. You shouldn’t be able to pinch any harness fabric between your fingers.
  11. Slide the plastic retainer clip that holds the two straps together up to armpit level before securing it. If the clip is too low, your child could be ejected from his seat in a crash.
  12. When you’re putting your child in his seat, double-check to be sure that the seat is buckled tightly to the car. Forward-facing safety seats come with a strap so you can tether the seat to an anchor point in the car for extra protection.
  13. Set a good example by always wearing your own seat belt.
  14. Next time you see someone driving around with their children not in a car seat or safely buckled up, call 0861 400-800 with the car’s license plate and the date and the RTMC will send them a warning letter. It could save a child’s life.
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Hi, I’m Shan. I’m an entrepreneur and a sucker for good adventures. I was listed in Forbes Africa 30 under 30 2019 and just recently launched my start-up – MomSays.

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  1. 2015-06-30 / 09:49

    Wow! These are very great tips and a much needed post for new moms!! Thank you for sharing! This will help a lot of people!

  2. Fi Ní Neachtáin
    2015-06-30 / 11:53

    Really great advice, especially for first time parents like myself who may not have the knowledge of these things just yet. Car seat safety it SO important.

  3. 2015-06-30 / 20:45

    These are great tips. This is especially helpful to new parents who will be buying and using a car seat for the first time.

  4. 2015-07-01 / 00:16

    We keep our little ones rear faced as long as possible.. This is great info for new moms

  5. 2015-07-01 / 03:55

    It’s so important to know how to use them correctly! I hear so many people argue “well we didn’t even wear seatbelts when I was a kid…” but those statistics are significant and we should do all we can to keep kids safe.

  6. 2015-07-01 / 04:47

    Always great recommendations and reminders. I just have one left in a booster and am thankful for all the resources that helped me through those years!

  7. 2015-07-01 / 04:58

    These are great tips! I have a family friend who’s pregnant and I know she’d love to know everything there is about car seat safety <3

  8. 2015-07-01 / 05:02

    Car seat laws can be hard to stay on top of! These are great tips and resources for parents.

  9. 2015-07-01 / 07:29

    I think for car seats, you should be ready to invest in quality after all it’s for safety. It’s also good to lead a good example when it comes to wearing seat belts for kids to follow.

  10. 2015-07-01 / 07:59

    I do not yet have kids but I can not imagine not buckling the kids in with the amount accidents televised and so many poor children losing their lives nope wouldnt do it. This is a great and informative post

  11. 2015-07-01 / 08:45

    Wow these statistics are very alarming. I am glad it is law because parents have no choice but to learn and know the facts. I am not a mommy yet, but I am going to keep these tips in mind! I like the rear-facing tips because so many parents are stubborn and completely refuse to do this because it’s inconvenient!

  12. 2015-07-01 / 13:43

    I hear people talk about how hard car seats are to use. I’m past that but I do remember worrying about if they were installed properly. I can’t believe the amount of people who let’s their kids to allow to stand up in a car.

  13. 2015-07-01 / 22:28

    I have to agree that car seats for children is a very good idea. It is amazong that so many people of my age are still alive-there were no seat belts back then. I have just one question with really young babies–wouldn’t a Mom get distracted if the child was seriously crying and there was no place to pull over?

  14. 2015-07-01 / 22:51

    This is a great post! I have seen so many kids strapped in incorrectly and it’s so dangerous!

  15. 2015-07-02 / 16:35

    I took mine to the fire station where they noted they could check it and no one knew for sure what was right. I was surprised and figured it out on my own. It’s important. Safety in the car couldn’t matter more!

  16. 2015-07-03 / 05:25

    We have to make sure to recheck the seats tightness often, since our boys have all figured out how to unsnap and adjust things.

  17. 2015-07-03 / 06:02

    This is some really great advice. It’s so crazy how many people use car seats wrong!

  18. Jeana B.
    2015-07-03 / 21:15

    Wow, I really appreciate the tips. Yup, we should always make sure that the seat is installed correctly or it’s useless.

  19. Samantha
    2015-07-18 / 22:09

    Good advice for parents

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