Child Safety Seats - Misuse
How do I know if my child safety seat is improperly installed?
With your vehicle owner's manual, the instruction manual for your child safety seat and a little knowledge, you have the tools you need to identify misuse and correct it! However, child passenger safety advocates see many errors of misuse repeated over and over, at all levels of society regardless of education or income.
While any example of misuse can compromise the safety of a child, some misuses are more serious than others, and can render a child safety seat virtually useless. These include:
- Not securing the child into the CSS;
- Not anchoring the CSS to the vehicle;
- Positioning an infant facing forward in a vehicle;
- Placing an infant rear-facing in front of an airbag.
Other misuses also may lead to serious injury or death, if not corrected. These include:
- Using the wrong size or type of CSS for your child (for example, using an infant-only CSS for a child weighing more than 20 - 22 pounds;
- Using the CSS harness incorrectly;
- Failing to properly tighten the safety belt through or around the CSS;
- Using an incorrect belt path for the CSS's seating position;
- Using an incorrect recline angle, especially for an infant.
- Failing to position the harness retainer clip across the child's chest, at "armpit level," to keep the harness straps on the child's shoulders;
- Permitting excess slack in the harness straps;
- Knotting the harness, which reduces its strength;
- Using a CSS that has been in a crash or is more than 6 years old;
- Using a CSS equipped with a "shield" for a very small infant.
Multiple errors compound the risk to a child. Data collected from numerous CSS checks throughout New York State indicate that the vast majority of child seats checked have two or more misuses.