9 Car Seat Safety Tips for Your Fall Road Trip

Car Seat Safety
Make sure your kids are properly restrained and car seats are properly installed. Credit: Buckleupforlife.org

Just because it’s fall doesn’t mean your family travel is over, right?

Apple picking, leaf peeping or a sweet weekend at the beach–no crowds and the sun isn’t so hot– is probably on your to-do list. But before you head out, make sure car seat safety is on that list, too.

This is Child Passenger Safety Week, created to remind you to do a car seat safety check in your vehicle.

Did you know that motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for children age 1 to 13 in the United States? It’s a tragic statistic, but one that deserves our attention. Often it’s because kids are not in the right safety seat, or not in a safety seat at all. In 2014, for children under 5, an estimated 252 lives could have been saved by child restraint use. So before you embark on your autumn road trip, or even a drive around town, be confident your child’s car seat or booster is the right seat.

One way to know is to to visit SaferCar.gov/TheRightSeat (or SaferCar.gov/Protegidos for Spanish-language information) to determine if your child’s seat is right for his or her age and size and to find a car seat check station in your area. Additionally, you should register your child’s car seat with the manufacturer so you’ll informed in the event of a recall.

Car Seat Safety

Proper installation is the key to keeping the little ones safe. Photo: Courtesy Britax

Nine Car Seat Safety Tips

Did you know that half of all car seats are not tethered using the latch system? And many car seats are not installed properly at all? If you’ve ever tried to latch a car seat, you know why. But it’s worth learning to use the latch system; it will keep the car seat from being ejected from the car in a crash.

This is a great week to learn to use the latch, and make sure your car seats are installed right. Before you do, here are 9 tips to consider:

  1. Find a car seat that fits your child. As children grow, how they sit in your car will change. Make sure the car seat you purchase is designed to fit your child’s current size and age.
  2. Not all car seats fit in all vehicles, so test the seat you plan to buy to make sure it fits well in your car.
  3. Make sure your child is snuggly strapped in.Use the pinch test, and if you can pinch any of the harness, it’s too loose. Also make sure your child can’t undo the restraints himself. Evenflo just recalled 30,000 seats because of this.
  4. Read the manufacturer’s instructions so you know how your car seat works.
  5. All-in-One car seats offer you the advantage of using the same seat for the following positions: rear-facing, forward-facing with harness, then booster. These seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time.
  6. Children under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat.
  7. Children ages 1-3 should be kept rear-facing as long as possible.
  8. Keep your child in the back seat at least through age 12.
  9. When you have your car seat checked at an inspection station or by a certified child passenger safety technician, bring the car seat instructions AND your car’s owner’s manual. Sometimes even experts need to read the directions.Car Seat Safety

Now you’re ready for a safe and wonderfully colorful autumn road trip.

Terri Marshall grew up road-tripping around the country. Her love for the open road remains strong today. A travel... More about Terri Marshall