Are Your Children?s Car Seats Properly Installed?

According to a survey of more than 900 parents who currently use child car seats, more than 91 percent said they were confident that their car seat or seats have been properly installed.? However, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data shows that 75 percent of all car seats are improperly installed.

The parents survey was conducted by The First Years?, a leading designer and manufacturer of innovative, high-quality infant and toddler products.? All respondents are registered members of, a popular pregnancy and parenting resource that takes its name from the best-selling What to Expect book series.? To help reduce the number of child passenger injuries, The First Years is working to inform parents about resources that help them identify seats that are easiest to install and use, and make sure they are installed properly.

Child Car Seat Resources for Consumers

  • NHTSA Ease of Use Ratings ? NHTSA?s Ease of Use Ratings ( make it a less daunting task to select easy-to-install-and-use?car seats.? Although all car seats sold in the United States meet federal safety and crash performance standards, they can differ greatly in their ease of installation and use.

NHTSA rates car seats from all manufacturers in four key areas:

  • o Evaluation of labels ? examines the content and clarity of the labeling attached to the child restraint;
  • o Evaluation of instructions ? examines the content and clarity of the instruction manual for installing and using the restraint;
  • o Securing the child ? examines the ease of using features that pertain to securing a child correctly in the restraint; and
  • o Vehicle installation features ? examines the ease of using features that pertain to how well the child restraint fits in a vehicle.

The First Years is the only car seat brand to receive NHTSA?s 5-Star, highest-overall Ease of Use Rating in each of these car seat categories:? infant, convertible and booster.? The First Years seats in these respective categories are the Via? Infant Seat, True Fit? Premier Convertible Car Seats and Compass Booster Seats.? No other manufacturer has as many Five Star overall Ease of Use Ratings.

Free Car Seat Inspections by Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians ? Most parents are not aware that car seat installation help is readily available free-of-charge in most communities.? Professional advice is particularly helpful to ensure that car seats are installed and adjusted properly when moving them from vehicle to vehicle, including those belonging to relatives, caretakers and friends.??Technicians and instructors certified by the National Child Passenger Safety Certification Training Program can be identified through the NHTSA inspection station locator on its Web site home page ( Many local fire departments and police departments also offer inspections, or can direct consumers to a certified technician.

Remember the Basic Rules of Proper Child Car Seat Use ? Safety experts generally recommend that infants should ride in rear-facing child car seats as long as possible and until they weigh at least 20 pounds and reach the age of 1.? Children can be secured in forward-facing car seats if they weigh between 20 and 40 pounds and are 1 to 4 years old.? As they continue to grow and until they typically reach at least age 8 or a height of about 4 feet 9 inches tall (usually weighing between 80 and 100 pounds), children need to be secured in booster seats that raise the child so that belt restraints fit properly and the seat?s high back protects the child?s head and upper body.

For more information about The First Years car seats,

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