I was thinking about last week's post regarding how to use a car seat on an airplane. Since statistically, children are much more likely to be injured in a car accident than in a plane, my next two posts are going to be devoted to car seat safety as it relates to . . . cars. A novel concept, I know.
Before buying a new car seat for your infant, toddler, or child, check out the website for The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which just unveiled its 2008 Car Seat Ease-of-Use Ratings. The five-star rating program evaluates how easy car features are to use. All car seats rated by NHTSA meet Federal Safety Standards. But as we all know, while those seats may be deemed safe in a crash-test scenario, they can differ in how easy they are to use - which of course can ultimately affect your child's safety. A 2003 study conducted for NHTSA observed one or more forms of misuse in 72.6 percent of the seats inspected. Some of the documented misuses included improper installation and secureness of the car seat in the vehicle, and secureness/fit of the harness straps or belts. Faced with this staggering statistic, it's a good idea to buy a car seat that ranks high in NHTSA's ease-of-use ratings. The five-star rating system helps consumers evaluate the following categories: instructions, labels, vehicle installation features, and securing the child, and then provides an overall ease of use rating. Just click on the type of car seat you are thinking of buying (for example, infant rear facing seat), and check out the listed car seats and the ratings they received in each category. For further information on why a seat received a particular rating, just click on the car seat's name to see NHTSA's detailed analysis.