The importance of child car
seats is etched in parents’ brains since the day their babies are born: In
fact, you can’t leave the hospital without one. And yet in spite of the
progress we’ve made in getting them into American’s cars, child car seats face
yet another hurdle: improper use.
“Having a seat in the car and using it correctly are two
different things,” said Andrew Turnage, child
passenger safety coordinator at The University of Georgia’s Georgia Traffic
Injury Prevention Institute. In fact, officials estimate that nearly 100
percent of all child restraint seats are used incorrectly.
This problem came to light during Operation Thunder, where cops
in Richmond County, Georgia recorded 488 citations of child seat violations
over a three-month period. Some of the primary abuses were fairly obvious: kids
not in their seats, sitting in the seats but not being buckled in. But other
errors were subtler, like loose straps or seats facing forward when they should
be facing backward. Still other problems stem from car seats being too old.
Even though they last six years, weather damage and wear and tear can
compromise a child’s safety much sooner than that.
To combat this problem, Turnage offered classes in correct child
car seat usage to police deputies with the hopes that they’d pass this
knowledge onto parents. But more must be done on a national level. For one, why
don’t the companies that sell these car seats offer free courses on how to
properly use their product? Any parent who’s ever tried to install a car seat
knows it’s a tiresome, head-scratching, tear-your-hair-out ordeal. Any help
would be greatly appreciated.