Most parents make their child’s safety their highest priority. New Jersey lawmakers are intent on keeping children safe, as well. The Garden State has one of the strictest child safety seat laws in the nation.
Car accidents are the leading cause of death for U.S. children ages 1 to 13. Approximately 40% of these children are unrestrained or improperly restrained. Most parents and caregivers believe they are using car safety seats correctly. However, nearly six in 10 (59%) of car seats are incorrectly installed or misused. Choosing the right safety seat and using it correctly can help protect your child’s safety in the event of an accident.
Common mistakes to avoid
Car seats might seem straightforward and easy to install, but they are easier to get wrong than you might think. According to the American Association of Pediatrics, some common mistakes include:
The car seat is too loose. A car seat that moves one inch in any direction is dangerous. In a collision, a child can be thrown forward, putting a severe strain on their neck or hitting the front seat and suffering a head injury.
Your child is facing forward too soon. According to the New Jersey Passenger Restraint Law (Title 39:3-76.2a), all children under 2 years old must be secured in a rear-facing car seat. Car seats for infants and small children are engineered to help prevent injury to the baby’s head, neck and spine.
The recline of the car seat is incorrect. All rear-facing car seats have built-in angle indicators that will tell you whether it is installed at the right angle. Rear-facing car seats must be installed at the correct angle to keep an infant’s head well-positioned.
Before you hit the road with your child in tow, take time to read your vehicle owner’s manual and child safety seat instructions. If you have further questions or concerns, consider scheduling an appointment with a certified child passenger seat inspector.