DOT unveils tools to increase car seat safety
Every 34 seconds, a child under the age of 13 is involved in a crash. More than a third of children killed in crashes are not in car seats or wearing seat belts.
With that in mind, the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is launching a new Car Seat Finder Tool, adding the ability to look up car seat recalls on its mobile app, and reminding parents and caregivers to register their child’s car seat through its new campaign – "Don’t Delay. Register Your Car Seat Today." NHTSA’s new Car Seat Finder Tool is aimed at helping parents select the right car seat or booster seat for their child, while the campaign reminds everyone of the importance of registering car seats to receive important safety recall notifications.
"Safety is our highest priority, and our new tool and registration campaign are two more ways we’re working to protect our most vulnerable passengers – our children," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "Parents and caregivers are the first line of defense by ensuring they are selecting the right car seat, registering it, and using it correctly for every trip."
In 2014, NHTSA pushed manufacturers to recall seats with defective buckles to ensure owners received a replacement buckle at no cost. The agency’s efforts led to the recall of more than 7.4 million car seats and yet, on average, only 40 percent of people get their car seat fixed. That’s in comparison to an average of 75 percent for light vehicles, for which registration is required by law. NHTSA’s “Don’t Delay. Register Your Car Seat Today.” campaign urges caregivers to register their car seat so manufacturers know how to notify them of a recall and how to receive the free fix. NHTSA’s Parent Central site allows parents and caregivers to select their manufacturer or brand of car seat and directly links them to the manufacturer’s registration page. In addition, the agency encourages people to utilize the updated SaferCar app which now allows users to search for car seat recalls, in addition to vehicle and tire recalls. The app also provides information on where people can go for help in installing their car seats.
“Regardless of age or the length of the trip, children should always be properly restrained in a car seat, booster or seat belt that is installed correctly and free from safety defects,” said NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman. “The first step for a parent is finding the right seat and our new Car Seat Finder Tool helps sort through the numerous options in car seats to ensure they’re making the best choices for their child passengers.”
NHTSA offers parents and caregivers the following safety tips:
- Utilize NHTSA’s Car Seat Finder Tool to determine the right seat for your child based on age and size;
- Read the instructions and labels that come with your child's car seat and read the vehicle owner's manual for important information on installing the seat in your particular vehicle;
- Register your child’s car seat with the manufacturer to ensure you receive important safety recall notifications;
- If your child’s car seat is subject to a recall, follow contact the manufacturer and follow their guidance to receive a free fix for your seat;
- Go to your local car seat inspection station to have your seat checked by a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician;
- Use the lower anchors and tethers for child restraint systems or seat belt to install your car seat and use the top tether to secure forward-facing car seats;
- Be sure all children under 13 years are seated and properly restrained in the back seat; and
- Always wear your seat belt to set a good example. Unbuckled drivers are more likely to have unrestrained children in the car.
During Child Passenger Safety Week, NHTSA is also encouraging parents and caregivers to pledge their commitment to ensuring proper car seat usage and registration by explaining why this issue is important to them through the use of photos, videos, and tweets on social media using the hashtag #MyWhy.
Child Passenger Safety Week is September 14-20. During the final day of the week (Sept. 20), recognized as National Seat Check Saturday, certified child passenger safety technicians will inspect car seats, show parents and caregivers how to correctly install and use them, and help them register their car seats. In most cases, this service is free of charge.