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Do you know the proper Photo - Pink toddler shoes on a car's dashboardway to install and use your child’s car seat? Your answer to this question could literally mean life or death for you child. Car crashes are the leading cause of death among children ages 3 – 14. And improper car seat use is a contributing factor. Your child is 3 ½ times more likely to be seriously injured in an auto accident if he or she is not restrained properly.

Studies show that as much as 84% of child car restraints are misused. The most common problem is that parents or caregivers are putting children in the wrong kinds of seats for their age and weight. But car seats that are inadequately secured to the car are also a problem. In addition, if a child is buckled in with loose-fitting harness straps, he or she is at risk too. Unfortunately, as many as 96% of parents believe their child’s safety seat is installed and being used correctly.

Surprisingly, some parents and caregivers aren’t diligent to make sure their children are restrained at all—especially older children. One CDC study revealed that more than 618,000 children rode in vehicles at least some of the time without being secured in a car seat, booster seat, or seat belt. This was especially true if the adults themselves weren’t using seat belts. Almost 40% of children riding with unbelted drivers were not buckled in themselves.

The type of seat your child needs depends on several things including your child’s age and size and the kind of vehicle you drive. The American Academy of Pediatrics (app.org) offers comprehensive information on car seats to help you choose the appropriate one for your child. And be sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to install and use the car seat correctly. If you have questions about installing your child’s car seat, you can find a list of certified child passenger safety technicians (CPST) to help you at NHTSA Parents Central (nhtsa.gov) and National Child Passenger Safety Certified Technicians (cert.safekids.org). You can also call 877-366-8154. They have technicians fluent in Spanish and other languages to help you.

Let’s keep our children safe by buckling them in every time they ride in a car—no matter their ages or how short the drive will be—and making sure others who drive them do the same. And let’s be diligent to wear seatbelts ourselves. Here at Accident and Injury Chiropractic, we want you and your children to be as safe as possible when in your car. And remember, if you are in a car accident, come to Accident and Injury Chiropractic. We’ll take good care of you and your family.