Car accidents have consistently ranked as the leading cause of death for American children. In April 2022, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that of the 23,824 passenger vehicle occupant deaths recorded in 2000, 755 fatalities were children under age 14. Among these tragedies, at least 42% involved child passengers who were unrestrained at the time of the accident.
Child passenger safety seats have been proven to reduce fatal injuries to children involved in car accidents by up to 71%, particularly infants. There is no excuse for putting a child in a car unrestrained. Even if you are unsure of the restraint you need, there are many resources to help you make a safe decision.
Back in September, national safety organizations across the country celebrated Child Passenger Safety Month. This essential safety campaign helps parents and guardians access the information and resources they need to find, install, and correctly use car seats.
While this campaign has made a significant difference in spreading awareness on car seat safety, child passenger safety is a year-long issue. Resources spread throughout Child Passenger Safety Month can be utilized at any time. Let’s take a look at some of the most important facts parents and guardians need to know and how they can keep their children safe.
The Most Common Car Seat Mistakes Parents Make
Safe Kids Connecticut reports that only 1 in 5 car seats are used and installed correctly in the average passenger vehicle. Using ANY car seat does not reduce your risk of injury in an accident. Child passenger safety seats only do their job when properly installed and fitted. Here are some of the ways car seats may cause harm.
Picking the Wrong Seat
Picking the wrong seat can put your child at risk from the start. If a seat is too large, a child can fall out, risk ejection from the vehicle, or sustain injuries from slamming into hazards inside the car. If the seat is too small, your child may be unprotected by the safety features and could be more injured by improperly fitted parts.
Some of the most common errors parents and guardians make when choosing a car seat include:
- Buying cheaply made seats from unreputable companies
- Using second-hand or damaged car seats
- Selecting a seat based on style
- Switching to forward-facing car seats too soon
- Using rear-facing only car seats facing forward
- Using a car seat after an accident
While child passenger safety seats can be expensive, using secondhand and damaged car seats can put your child at serious risk. Car seat safety features start to weaken and malfunction over time. Car accidents involving massive amounts of force require seats to be strong and effective. Most car seats have an expiration date to notify users when the product needs to be replaced to keep parts in working condition.
When shopping for a new car seat, size and quality are the most important factors to base your decision on. Age should never be a factor in what type of seat you purchase, as all children grow differently. For more information on picking the right seat, Safe Kids offers this Ultimate Car Seat Guide to help you out.
Properly installing a car seat is just as important as purchasing the right one. Regardless of whether your child is in a seat, they can still sustain severe injuries if it’s not safely secured within the vehicle.
The NHTSA reports that at least 59% of car seats are incorrectly installed, meeting one or more of the following risk factors:
- The seat is too loose and can move more than one inch in either direction
- The shoulder straps and headrest are too high or low for the child’s size
- The harness is too loose and poses an ejection risk
- The belt straps are inserted incorrectly
- The top tether is not secured to the back of a seat
Where you place the car seat in your vehicle will depend on the vehicle you drive, but there are still several laws and safety considerations to remember.
Windows can increase your child’s risk for injuries in sideswipe and t-bone accidents. Safe Rides 4 Kids reports children are 43% safer when placed in the middle seat of a car, away from side doors and windows.
Connecticut Law requires all children to be rear-facing until they are at least two years old, depending on their size. Rear-facing seats distribute the crash force more evenly in an accident and reduce the risk of head and neck injuries. The longer you can keep a child rear-facing, the better.
Other Connecticut Car Seat Laws parents and guardians should be aware of include:
- All children under 13 must ride in the back seat of a vehicle.
- Children must ride in a properly fitting car seat until they outgrow the height and weight restrictions.
- Toddlers must ride in forward-facing, five-point harness seats until 5 years old and 40 pounds.
- Infants must ride in rear-facing seats until 2 years old and 30 pounds.
- Booster seats are required for children at least 8 years old and 60 pounds.
Check Your Car Seat for Safety
It’s always better to be safe than sorry when installing a car seat for your child. If you’re not sure where to start, or simly want someone to confirm you did it correctly, there are several organizations and professionals who are willing to help.
Below is a list of all known seat check sites in Fairfield County:
Bethel Police Department
12 Judd Ave.
Bethel, CT 06108
Officer Broad #70203-744-7900
Appointment only, once a month
Bridgeport Hospital - YNHH
300 Mill Hill Ave.
Bridgeport, CT 06610
Brookfield Police Department
63 Silverman Road
Brookfield, CT 06804
Patrolman Mitchell Heller
Danbury Police Department
375 Main Street
Danbury, CT 06810
Sgt. J. Antonelli
Appointment only, Mondays only
Darien Police Department
25 Hecker Ave.
Darien, CT 06820
Detective Elizabeth DiIorio
203-662-5300 Ext. 5370
Easton Police Department
700 Morehouse Road
Easton, CT 06612
Officer Anthony Telesco
Fairfield Police Department
100 Reef Road
Fairfield, CT 06824
Sgt. Evan Kaesmann
Monthly clinic, check website for more info
Greenwich Fire Department
15 Havemeyer Place
Greenwich, CT 06830
Deputy Fire Marshal Bob Roth
Greenwich Police Department
11 Bruce Place
Greenwich, CT 06830
Community Impact Officer
Monroe Police Department
7 Fan Hill Road
Monroe, CT 06468
Detective Nicole Buckley
203-452-2831, ext. 130
Residents & appointments only
New Canaan Police Department
174 South Ave.
New Canaan, CT 06840
Officer Geoffrey Lambert
Appointments must be made via email
Norwalk Police Department
1 Monroe Street
Norwalk, CT 06854
Appointment only, Residents only
Ridgefield Police Department
76 East Ridge Road
Ridgefield, CT 06360
Appointment only, Residents first preference
Stamford: Long Ridge Fire Company
366 Old Long Ridge Road
Stamford, CT 06903
Contact: Lt. John Carlo
Email to schedule an appointment
Trumbull Police Department
158 Edison Rd.
Trumbull, CT 06611
Residents only. Appointment only
Weston Fire Rescue
52 Norfield Road
Weston, CT 06883
Firefighter Mark Blake
Appointment only, Special Needs Assistance available
Westport Police Department
50 Jesup Road
Westport, CT 06880
Officer Alan Damura
Appointment only, residents only
Wilton Police Department
240 Danbury Road
Wilton, CT 06897
Lt. David Hartman
Call in the morning to see if an officer is available
Jacobs & Wallace CT Motor Vehicle Accident Attorneys
If you or someone you love is injured in a motor vehicle accident, you need an experienced law firm to represent you. Jacobs & Wallace, PLLC, has decades of experience fighting for the rights of Connecticut’s injured victims.
Please contact us today for a FREE case evaluation: 203-332-7700.