Improper Use of Car Seats Contributing Childhood Deaths

Child In Car Seat

According to a study conducted by the Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), nearly two children are killed in car accidents each day in the United States. One of the reasons this number is so high is due to the amount of child safety seats that are not used or installed properly. A car seat that is not installed properly increases the chance of serious injury or death by nearly 3.5 times. This statistic becomes extra grim when it has been revealed that anywhere between 70-85% of child safety seats across the US are not properly installed. According to, nearly 33% of children who are killed in a car accident were not seated in a car seat, and another 43% were seated in a car seat, but not properly. Many of these deaths could have been prevented if the car seats were installed properly.

What is California’s Car Seat Law?

Making sure children are safely fastened is the most important thing you can do to protect them event of a car accident. California has very specific car seat laws that include the following guidelines for your review:

  • Children under the age of two must ride in a rear-facing car seat unless they are 40 pounds or more than 40 inches tall. The child must be secured in a way that follows the height and weight restrictions specified by the maker of the car seat.
  • Children who are under the age of eight must be fastened in a car seat or booster seat that is located in the back seat of the car.
  • Children who have reached the age of eight or 4 foot 9 inches may sit in a booster seat or at minimum a safety belt.
  • Passengers who are over the age of 16 are all subject to California’s mandatory seat belt law.

Car Seat Laws Help Protect Your Child

If you are involved in a car accident and happen to have a two-year-old in the backseat, your rear-facing car seat will aid in saving your child’s neck in a crash. The rear-facing car seat will brace a child’s neck in the event of a front-facing crash.

Support of a child’s body in a crash is very important because children under the age of two have spinal cords that are not fully developed and as a result, are much more vulnerable than that of an adult.

Enforcement of child car seat laws will cause people to pay more attention, and raise awareness. If you happen to be pulled over, and your child’s safety seat is not compliant with California’s safety seat law, you may be subject to a significant fine of more than $500. If you ever need assistance installing a safety seat for your child, the California Highway Patrol can assist you.

How to Properly Install A Car Seat

Selecting the right car seat for your child can be confusing. The NHTSA has set forth some guidelines that can help you understand how to choose the best, and install a car seat for your child.

According to, some general guidelines that you can follow for installing a car seat include the following:

  • Read the instructions. Don’t try guessing—read the directions thoroughly and make sure you understand how to securely install the car seat.
  • Position car seats in the back seat. This is the safest location in the car for a child to ride.
  • Reference your vehicle’s manual. Some cars have lower anchors built into the seats that can be used to attach a safety seat. Older cars may not have these and require the seat belt to secure the car seat. The owner’s manual will help you find what you need.
  • Lock the seat belt. If your vehicle doesn’t have lower anchors, refer to your owner’s manual to find out how to lock a seat belt once the seat is in place.
  • Secure tightly. Once the car seat is in place and attached to either the seat belt or lower anchors, wiggle it side to side, back and forth. It should not move more than 1 inch in any direction.
  • Adjust the recline angle. For rear-facing seats, it is important that the base of your car seat is level to prevent your child’s head from flopping forward. Most seats will have indicators on the side to help.
  • Connect the tether strap. Forward-facing seats have an extra strap at the top as an added safety measure. Double-check your vehicle and attach and tighten the tether strap if possible to prevent head movement in the event of a crash.

Once your car seat is installed, you will still need to secure your child in it properly. Here are some quick tips to ensure they are secured correctly:

  • Remove bulky clothing or unnecessary layers.
  • Place your child so their back is flush against the seat without arching or slouching.
  • All straps should lie flat against your child without twists or knots.
  • Straps should be snug but not too tight.
  • The chest clip should sit level with their armpits.
  • The shoulder straps should connect to the seat at or directly below their shoulders.

Common Injuries Children Sustain in Car Accidents

Car accidents can cause severe injuries to children whether they are in a car seat or not. Common injuries that are sustained by children in accidents include but are not limited to the following:

The only way to minimize your child’s chances of sustaining an injury in a car accident is by properly securing them in a properly sized car seat. Accidents are unpredictable, and the injuries sustained in them cannot always be prevented; however, car seats will be able to help lower the number of childhood deaths that occur across the US.

Car Accident Lawyer in Bakersfield, CA

At The Law Offices of Mickey Fine, we care deeply about the parents of Bakersfield and their children. If you have a young child, we hope that you will be extra careful and take the proper precautions to installing their car seats. Make sure they are secured and safe whenever you drive. Most accidents happen within a mile of home, so it is important that you always make sure they are restrained. Together, we can take the steps necessary to reduce the leading cause of childhood deaths. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident due to the negligence of another person, contact experienced car accident lawyer Mickey Fine right away to discuss your case.