PARENT ALERT: Do You Have the Right Car Seat?

September 21, 2020
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Car crashes are the leading cause of death for children in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.), 675 children ages 12 and under were killed in car crashes in 2017. Sadly, approximately 40 percent of these deaths could have been prevented if the child was properly buckled up.

Child Passenger Safety Week is an annual safety initiative aimed to reduce child vehicle fatalities by spreading awareness about car seat safety. Created by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (N.H.T.S.A.), this annual event provides parents with education and resources to help ensure their children are riding safely.

From September 20 to September 26, national and local organizations in Connecticut will be participating in Child Passenger Safety initiatives to help keep children safe. Ending the week with National Seat Check Saturday, residents can visit car seat check sites in their community to gain peace of mind that their child’s car seat is correctly installed. They will also have the possibility to consult with experts on tips for a better fit.

Children cannot protect themselves in the car. It’s up to every Connecticut parent to properly use a car seat and stay informed on how these products can reduce their child’s risk of injuries. To start, we’ve compiled a few of the best need-to-know safety tips parents can use when it comes to car seat safety.

Car Seat Mistakes To Avoid

Choosing a car seat is not as easy as it used to be. Recommendations for car seats are ever-changing as our understanding of vehicle safety continues to expand. Unfortunately, as fast as information is gained, it doesn’t always reach the people who need it most.

So many parents still do not know which type of car seat is best for their child. Designs become more complicated every year. The N.H.T.S.A. estimates that 3 out of 4 car seats are being misused.

Some of the most common mistakes parents make when choosing and installing a car seat are the simplest errors to correct, including the type of seat, placement, and installation.

Car Seat Type

Choosing your child’s car seat is one of the most vital steps to keeping them safe in the car. Mistakes parents often make when shopping for or choosing a car seat include:

  • Choosing car seats based on style or brand.
  • Buying cheap or damaged car seats for price discounts.
  • Using second-hand car seats that are past the expiration dates.
  • Using car seats that face forward when children should be rear-facing.
  • Using car seats based on the child’s preference.
  • Continuing to use a car seat after a vehicle has been in an accident.

When parents are shopping for a car seat, their child’s size and age will determine which seat provides optimal protection. Certain brands and styles are not right for every child, and not every car seat is capable of following a child as they continue to grow.

Car seats that are old, damaged, and subject to a previous crash may not provide protection in an accident. A car seat’s and safety features can become stressed and weakened over time, leading to malfunctions and injuries.

Car Seat Placement

If you were to ask a dozen parents what the best position for a car seat was inside their vehicle, you would most likely get several different (and possibly dangerous) answers.

One of the most common errors parents make when installing car seats is flipping their child around too soon. In Connecticut, it’s the law that children must ride rear-facing until they are at least two-years-old, if not longer. Some safety experts have even suggested moving the age to five, stating that children are safer impact injuries in the rear-facing position.

Another mistake parents make when placing a car seat in a vehicle is putting a seat by the passenger side door. Safe Rides 4 Kids reports children are 43 percent safer when placed in the middle seat of a car. Passenger doors and windows increase a child’s risk for injuries if a car is struck on the side. The middle seat provides a lower risk for impact injuries, particularly in the case of direct collisions.


Car seats can save an average of 300 lives every year when used correctly. The N.H.T.S.A. predicts at least 59 percent of car seats are installed wrong when placed in a vehicle. Some of the most common installation mistakes highlighted by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia include:

  • Installing Seats Too Loose: The safety seat, when properly placed, should not move more than an inch in any direction, or it could be at risk of ejection during a crash.
  • Poor Shoulder Strap Placement: Some parents place the shoulder straps far too high or low to be effective. The chest clip should be at armpit length for rear-facing kids, and the shoulder straps at or below the baby’s shoulders. Forward-facing children should have shoulder straps at or above the shoulders.

 Failing The ‘Pinch Test’: The ‘pinch test’ involves the harness’s tightness once the child is buckled in. If you can pinch extra material when your child is in the seat, it is not tight enough.

  • Improperly Placing Belt Strap: Parents are inserting the seat belt straps through the wrong slots on the car seat, causing the seat not to be as secure as possible during a crash.
  • Neglecting The Top Tether: Every seat has a top tether located at the top of the seat. Instructions on how to use the tether to secure the seat differ deepening on brand and style, but a number of parents are choosing not to use it at all.

Connecticut Car Seat Laws

Connecticut has specific laws regarding children in car seats that parents and guardians transporting children must follow to help keep children safe:

  • Children must ride in a proper child safety seat and remain in the backseat of a vehicle until they reach the appropriate age and weight limits.
  • Infants must ride in rear-facing seats until they are at least 2-years-old and 30 pounds.
  • Toddlers must ride in a forward-facing, five-point harness seat until they are at least 5-years-old and 40 pounds.
  • Children should ride in booster seats until they are at least 8-years-old and 60 pounds. Seat belts on these children must have a lap and shoulder restraint.
  • Children under 13-years-old should ride in the back seat.

State laws are not enough to encourage parents to use proper safety precautions for their children in the car and not due to a lack of trying. Children are all different. Parents and guardians should seek additional resources specific to their child’s size and capabilities before making any decisions pertaining to their car seats.

Target Trade-In Deal

Car seats are expensive, and the price is one of the top reasons parents hold on to damaged and expired products. That’s why Target is offering a seat trade-in incentive to encourage customers to recycle old car seats and purchase a new model for a safer ride.

This year, Target is offering a 20% coupon to customers who trade in car seats now through 9/26. The program begins with customers dropping off their car seats in a designated box inside the store to receive a mobile coupon for future purchases.

To participate, you must download the Target App and scan the barcode on the drop-off box to receive the coupon. The coupon can be used on a new seat, stroller, or other select baby gear online or in-store.

Get Your Car Seat Checked!

In a 2016 study published by the Journal of Pediatrics, researchers found nearly 95 percent of parents are making at least one mistake when installing and securing car seats. There is no harm in getting your child’s car seat inspected for safety. A quick and simple inspection could highlight even a small error that could save your child’s life.

With National Seat Check Day around the corner, there are several different inspection sites Connecticut residents can visit. Most sites are open to the public but will require calling ahead for an appointment to ensure each family is granted an appropriate amount of time for their safety inspection.

These are some of the Fairfield County car seat fitting stations available:

Bethel Police Department

49 Plumtree Road, Bethel CT 06108
Officer Heather Burnes
Residents only
Appointment Only

Bristol Police Department

131 North Main Street, Bristol CT 06010
860-584-3017 ext. 3168
Sergeant Russ Marcham
Residents Only
Use the online form on the PD website to make an appointment

Bridgeport Hospital Yale New Haven Health

267 Grant Street
Bridgeport, CT
203-200-KIDS or 203-384-4390
Appointment Only one Wednesday month

Brookfield Police Department

63 Silverman Road
Brookfield, 06804
Contact: Mitchell Heller
Appointment Only

The Car Seat Crew LLC
Serving Fairfield County
Fee-based service at your location or ours

Danbury Police Department

375 Main Street,
Danbury CT 06810
Sgt. Antonelli
Residents/Employees Only
Appointment only 1st 3 Mondays of the Month

Darien Police Department

25 Hecker Ave,
Darien CT 06820
203-662-5300 Ext. 5370
Open to Public
Contact Elizabeth Dilorio

Easton Police Department

700 Moorehouse Road,
Easton CT 06612
Officer Mark Pastor
Open to Public

Executive Livery, LLC

175 North St.
Goshen, 06756
Office: 860-491-3955
Appointment Only
Free Service No Charge

Greenwich Fire Department

15 Havemeyer PL
Greenwich CT 06830
Firefighter Roth
Open to Public
Appointment Only

Fairfield Police Department

100 Reef Road,
Fairfield CT
One Saturday a month
Call Allison or check for details.

Little Riders LLC

Serving Fairfield and New Haven county
Appointments at your home/office, evenings and, weekends.
Fee-based service
Special needs trained

Monroe Police Department

7 Fan Hill Road,
Monroe CT 06468
Detective Buckley
Residents & Appointments only

New Canaan Police Department

174 South Ave,
New Canaan CT 06840
Officer Thomas Patten
Appts must be made via email:

New Fairfield Police Department

302 Ball Pond Road,
New Fairfield CT 06810
Officer Lange
Open to Public
Appointments only

Newtown Police Department

3 Main Street,
Newtown CT 06470
Officer Flynn
Residents Only
Appointment Only

Norwalk Police Department

Norwalk Police Department
1 Monroe Street,
Norwalk CT 06854
Appointment Only

Safe in the Car

Fee based service at your home/office
Serving all of Fairfield and New Haven counties and parts of Litchfield and Hartford counties
Special needs trained

Trumbull Police Department

Trumbull Police Department
158 Edison Rd Trumbull, CT
Coleen Fitch
Residents only, call for appointment

Weston Fire Rescue

56 Norfield Road,
Weston CT 06883
Mark Blake
Open to Public
Appointment Only, Special Needs Assistance available

Westport Police Department

50 Jesup Road,
Westport CT 06880
Officer Chris Proudfoot
Residents Only
Appointment Only

Wilton Police Department

240 Danbury Road,
Wilton CT 06897
Officer Anthony Cocco
Appointments only, open to the public

Connecticut Personal Injury Attorneys and Safety Advocates

Connecticut children deserve the best protection available when it comes to riding in the car. If your child has sustained a serious injury from a vehicle accident due to the negligence of another, you could be eligible for financial compensation to help out with any damages suffered. Our winning team of attorneys at Jacobs & Wallace are committed to fighting back for your family’s right to safe travels on Connecticut roads. Call us for a free case evaluation to review all of your options for seeking restitution for your child’s unnecessary injuries.

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