Tracy Tellman, a TxDOT Traffic Safety Specialist (TSS) in Amarillo, has been a certified safety seat technician since 1998. Since she started in child passenger safety, Tracy has seen many changes and improvements.
“When I first started in this field, we had a much smaller selection of seats to choose from,” Tellman says. “There were some seats that just didn’t fit in any cars. … It is much easier for parents today than ever before. I still see parents making mistakes, but they are much better informed and educated than when I first started in child passenger safety.”
However, despite advances in safety seat systems, strengthening of laws and availability of educational resources, child safety still has considerable room for improvement. Three out of every four children riding in safety seats are not properly secured or, even worse, not restrained at all. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), vehicle crashes are a leading killer of children thirteen and under in the United States.
See below for the top five significant mistakes parents make when using and installing safety seats, based on a NHTSA survey:
- Harness straps used to hold the child in the car seat are positioned either too low or too high.
- Harness chest clips are either not being used at all or are positioned over the abdomen instead of the chest.
- The car seat is installed too loosely, so the restraint system moves more than 2 inches side-to-side or front-to-back. Movement of more than 1 inch is too much.
- Harnesses are too loose: Parents should not be able to pinch the slack at the shoulder when the child is in the harness.
- The seat belt placement is wrong in a booster seat: The lap belt incorrectly rests over the stomach and/or the shoulder belt rests over the child’s neck or face.
Want to be sure your child is buckled in correctly? Schedule a safety seat check with your local TxDOT TSS. Contact information can be found here.