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New Study Finds Two-Thirds of Parents Still Not Using Their Car Seats Properly

3,000 cars were randomly pulled over and the seats inspected.


Car seats can be surprisingly anxiety-inducing for parents. Not only can they be a pain to install (don’t forget the tether), but the instructions are often confusing, and it’s easy to forget to adjust the car seat as your child gets bigger. That’s all without even mentioning that you might be strapping your baby into a recalled or defective car seat without even knowing it. As if parents needed another reason to stress, a new study confirms what previous reports have suggested: a whopping two-thirds of parents continue to make basic mistakes when strapping kids into their car seats.

Based on a study from What Car?, a UK-based automobile magazine and website, 59 percent of kids are being put into their car seats unsafely. Rather than ask parents questions about how they install or use their car seat, the study was conducted by randomly pulling over 3,000 cars, some with kids in car seats and some without, and examining the seats. Upon inspection, it was discovered that most of the problems were relatively predictable ones. Thirty-six percent of parents didn’t strap their kids into the seat properly while 33 percent of the random inspections found that the car seats weren’t a good fit for the child.

Previous studies in the United States have turned up similar numbers. One study found that 40 percent of parents don’t know the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends leaving a child rear-facing until at least two-years-old, and longer if possible. Another learned that of the parents who do use front-facing car seats, 64 percent of them neglect to fasten the top tether, which provides extra security in the event of an accident. When a child under one-year-old is strapped into a car seat correctly, however, the likelihood of serious injury in an accident is reduced by 71 percent.