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How do you know if your child’s car seat is installed correctly? In many cases, it may not be.

According to the latest research released by the non-profit group Safe Kids USA, most adults aren’t using child seats correctly. One of the key problems was top tether use.

Less than 30 percent of the forward-facing child seats arriving at seat check events used a top tether, which secures the top of the chair to anchors found in any car made after 1999. The tether provides added protection to children under 50 pounds by helping to reduce the forward movement of a child’s head in a crash.

The Safe Kids USA study — considered the largest ever of its kind and released in September — reviewed data from 79,000 child safety seat inspections collected over a full year from 2009 to 2010.

Car crashes remain the leading cause of death for children ages 3-14, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). But, correctly used child safety and booster seats are extremely effective and reduce the risk of injury and death in accidents.

On the positive side, the Safe Kids USA study found that parents are doing a better job keeping children in rear-facing seats for a longer period — 41 percent of children greater than 20 pounds and 32 percent of children over age 1 were still riding in the rear-facing direction. But as children age, the research showed that they are less likely to be in the appropriate child safety seat for their age and weight.

Securing precious cargo

To help protect your family, Safe Kids USA recommends reviewing these and other seat belt safety tips:

  • Keep children under age 2 in a rear-facing seat until weight or height of the rear-facing car seat is fully outgrown.
  • Use car seat harnesses for large, heavier children beyond 40 pounds. Many caregivers make the mistake of moving a child too quickly into the booster seat because it’s easier to use.
  • Be cautious about transitioning older children into an adult seat belt. Children will not fit the adult safety belt until they are over 4’9”, weigh between 80 to 100 pounds and are between ages 8 and 12.
  • Get your child’s safety seat inspected, even if you think the child’s seat is secure. Certified technicians at safety inspection stations nationwide use standardized procedures to evaluate each seat. Each inspection takes about 20 to 30 minutes to complete. To find a child car seat inspection station locator near you, go to the NHTSA Web site or seatcheck.org. Both sites have a state and ZIP code location finder.

Review your insurance coverage

Insurance can help your family in the most unexpected situations. Here’s how:
  • Auto Insurance – If you have a car accident, your auto insurance policy will protect you against financial loss. Be sure you have the proper coverage to meet your family’s needs, and talk to your agent about how you might qualify for a discount.
  • Personal Catastrophe Liability – You may want to consider extra liability coverage through a Personal Catastrophe Liability policy, commonly called an umbrella policy, which could help protect you should a lawsuit ensue after a crash.
  • Life Insurance – Add life insurance as part of your overall financial plan to help protect your loved ones. Erie Family Life offers a variety of products that are meant to work with you and your situation.*

Most importantly, though, let us know about the changes happening in your household so we can review your specific situation and coverage needs. Contact our agency today.

*Erie Family Life insurance policies are not available in New York.

Posted 2:41 PM  View Comments

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