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Over 50% of car seats are installed incorrectly. Huntsville Hospital and Toyota team up to help.

New data from AAA and the National Safety Council shows that 52% of car seats inspected by child passenger safety technicians are improperly installed.
Credit: Nixon Norman
Three out of four car seats in the U.S. are installed incorrectly. And in Alabama, motor-vehicle crashes are the single largest category of accidental child deaths.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (September 1, 2022) -- Three out of four car seats in the U.S. are installed incorrectly.  And in Alabama, motor-vehicle crashes are the single largest category of accidental child deaths.

With that as a backdrop, Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children and Buckle Up for Life – a national child-passenger safety program created by Toyota and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center – announced a new partnership coinciding with the start of National Child Passenger Safety Month.

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The collaboration will further the hospital’s work of ensuring parents, caregivers, and children in the Huntsville area have certified car seats and are educated on the proper installation and use of car seats, booster seats and seat belts.

Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children’s car seat fitting program is free to the public and by appointment only. Participants will receive education on child passenger safety and have their car seats installed or checked by a highly trained technician. 

New data from AAA and the National Safety Council shows that 52% of car seats inspected by child passenger safety technicians are improperly installed.

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Car crashes are the leading safety issue for children in the U.S.

It's very simple to misuse car seats... 

"I am a mom of four. My first car seat, I was so proud... I was sure I had it in right! But I knew about the fitting station, so when I used it, I was 100% wrong. My seat was not in correctly and I got help and now, as the fourth-time parent, I actually know how to install my car seat and keep my children safe," said Medical Director of Pediatric Emergency Department with Huntsville Hospital, Dr. Jessica Branscome.

"And while cars and trucks are safer than ever, and technology continues to advance. Motor vehicle crashes remain one of the leading causes of death for children. That's why collaborations, including today with Huntsville Hospital to teach parents and caregivers about the proper use of their car seats. And to provide car seats is so important," said President at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Alabama, Inc., Jason Puckett.

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We've talked about the importance of properly securing a car seat into a car, but let's show you how to properly install one: 

"Okay, so when we're installing the seat, first you want to get the seat setup for the kid. So go ahead and you can put them in that you just put this on the floor. Make sure the harness height is where it's supposed to be. For rear-facing, it should be below their shoulders, forward-facing above. The crotch buckle most of the time it says their child should not be sitting on it. So go ahead and give that a check. And then you're ready to take it to the vehicle. If you're forward-facing you need to go ahead and unhook the top tether. This reduces the child's movement by four to six inches in a crash which greatly reduces the risk of head and neck injuries," said Buckle Up For Life Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lainie Choy. 

When it comes to installing a car seat, it's really important to get it tightly secured into the car itself - not just about securing a child into the seat correctly. 

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"Yep, so when we're installing in the car, you have two different methods. You have the lower anchors, are one method and those do have a weight limit, which you can find in your manual. The other way you can install is with your seat belt and the seatbelt has to be locked for most car seats. You just pull it out most of the time and it locks it up. You want to make sure to never use both at the same time, that is not allowed," said Choy. 

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Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children’s car seat fitting station is free to all participants and supported by community donors.

To donate to the program, visit huntsvillehospitalfoundation.org.

To schedule a car seat fitting appointment call (256) 265-7296.

For more information related to Buckle Up for Life, including car seat installation tutorials, visit BuckleUpforLife.org.

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