Time out: Avoid Common Car Seat Mistakes

AAA offers information on child safety during CPS Week


Phoenix, Sept. 14, 2012. Most parents think they’re using their child’s safety seat correctly, but statistics reveal that the majority – nearly three out of four – are not. During Child Passenger Safety Week (Sept. 16-22), AAA wants to educate caregivers on the importance of correctly using vehicle restraints.


Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among children ages 3 to 14, according to 2010 statistics by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). What’s more, the correct use of a child safety seat reduces the risk of death as much as 71 percent, yet nearly 75 percent are not installed or used correctly.



“It’s alarming to know that many parents are unknowingly placing their children in harm’s way despite having the best of intentions to keep them safe,” said Linda Gorman, director of communication and public affairs for AAA Arizona. “That’s why it’s crucial for caregivers to utilize available resources, such as those provided by AAA, to avoid making common car seat mistakes that put their most precious cargo at risk.”


To help parents and caregivers determine if they are using child vehicle restraints properly, AAA notes three of the most common mistakes:


  • Improper installation. Child safety seats are often installed too loosely. To avoid this, parents should tug on the car seat near the seatbelt path. If the seat moves more than an inch in any direction, it is too loose. To fix, push your weight into the seat and tighten the seatbelt as much as possible to lock the seatbelt into place.  


To ensure proper installation, parents should have their child safety seat inspected. AAA members can benefit from the club’s free car seat inspections by scheduling an appointment with one of the club’s certified car seat technicians. Learn more at AAA.com/childsafety.


  • Turning children face-forward too soon. Many parents believe that children should graduate from rear-facing to forward-facing after the child’s first birthday. However, this is a myth – and big mistake – that caregivers make, as the rear-facing position is safest for young child occupants. Traffic safety advocates, including AAA, advise parents to keep children in the rear-facing position until the age of 2, or until they reach the upper height and weight limits of their car seat.


  • Not using a booster. Once a child outgrows their safety seat, some parents make the mistake of transitioning them to an adult safety belt. However, older child occupants who are too big for a car seat, but too small to be properly protected by an adult safety belt, should ride in a booster seat. A booster seat helps position the seatbelt correctly so the shoulder belt rests on the shoulder and chest—not the neck and face—and the lap belt rests across the hips or upper thigh—not the stomach.


Failing to use a booster seat not only poses a significant safety risk to child passengers, but is also against the law. Earlier this summer, Arizona’s new booster seat provision took effect, requiring children ages 5 to 8 or shorter than 4 feet, 9 inches to ride in a booster seat.


To help parents and caregivers comply with Arizona’s updated child passenger safety law, earlier this month, AAA Insurance gave booster seats to members at several events across the state.

“The proper use of a child safety seat saves thousands of lives every year,” added Gorman. “AAA wants to help parents and caregivers know that they are using these seats properly each and every time their child is riding in a vehicle.”


AAA is an advocate for the safety of all road users, including child passengers. To learn more,  visit AAA.com/childsafety.


AAA Arizona, the Arizona affiliate of AAA, provides automotive, insurance and auto travel services to more than 825,000 Arizona members. Annually, AAA’s Roadside Assistance responds to more than 450,000 calls for help on Arizona roadways. The auto club also provides insurance, travel, auto repair, discounts and financial services to AAA members. Since its founding in 1927, AAA Arizona has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.