Many parents are unsure about how to correctly fit car seats for their children and they may be making car safety seat mistakes that threaten to harm their kids.

A recent report in USA Today suggests most parents are making serious mistakes. A study presented to a meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics in San Diego in 2014 found a staggering 93 percent of parents leaving the hospital made at least one critical error when installing their baby’s first car seat.

Dr. Benjamin Hoffman, a professor of pediatrics at the Doernbecher Hospital at the Oregon Health and Science University, pulled few punches on the issue. He said:

“If you wanted to create the perfect storm for misuse, this would be it. You take the most vulnerable person you could, a newborn, and the most vulnerable of caretakers, a family that has just had a baby, and you just take them to the door and just say good luck.”

In some cases, the lack of knowledge from the parents resulted in harm to their babies. Hoffman said he treats many children returning to his hospital with injuries that could have been averted if car seats were properly fitted.

Common car safety seat mistakes

Parents make car safety seat mistakes

He even became a car seat technician in his spare time to teach parents the correct way to secure their children.

In the study that was referenced at the conference, Hoffman and his colleagues randomly selected 267 mother-infant pairs at his hospital’s mother-baby unit between November 2013 and May 2014.

A safety technician was on hand when the new parents fitted their car seats. The most common car safety seat mistakes included fitting a harness too loosely, a problem found in 68 percent of cases,  a retainer clip being placed too low (33 percent), and parents using the incorrect harness slot (28 percent).

Hoffman said 70 percent of the time errors in the positioning of the infant and the installation of the seat were found.

Car safety seat mistakes are not confined to newborns. A report in noted common errors. They include:

  1. Turning a child face-forward too early. Babies should ride facing the rear in cars until they are at least one-year-old and weigh 20 pounds, ideally longer.
  2. Failing to secure a seat tightly enough.Often safety belts are fitted too loosely. Children will lose protection if an accident occurs. When jiggled around in the area where the safety belt is pulled through, a seat should not move more than an inch in any direction.
  3. Harness straps are too loose.Your child will lose protection if his or her harness straps are loose. Straps should be tightened so as slack cannot be pinched between an adult’s thumb and forefinger.
  4. Incorrect angling of an infant seat.The seat must be reclined so as a child doesn’t flop forward, but it should be no more than 45 degrees from vertical. If the seat is angled incorrectly, a child might be thrown forward and out of the seat headfirst.

5  A safety belt isn’t locked properly. If a child is old enough to use a seatbelt, make sure it’s used correctly. Check the vehicle’s owner manual to find out what type of belts you have. Follow directions about how they should be used with a child-safety restraint.

Cars can be very dangerous for children. On some occasions, a defect in a car seat may open a manufacturer up to liability. If your child is hurt in a car wreck, please call our Georgia personal injury lawyer at (404) 913-1529.