Don’t make this mistake when installing your baby’s new car seat

Posted at 12:47 PM, Feb 25, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-25 18:16:07-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -  Are your little ones properly secured when you hit the road? Are their car seats the best fit for them?

According to AAA, many parents don’t know about the one miscalculation they’re making that could put their children in danger.

A recent traffic study done by the AAA Foundation found parents unknowingly exceeded weight limits on car seats.

That’s because the label on some seats only account for the child’s weight and doesn’t take into account the weight of the car seat.

“Most people would probably not think of that. That's why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration  has announced new labeling requirements to clear up any confusion as far as the weight limitation," AAA’s Tammy Gobert said.

Chesterfield mom Emily Koch was floored to learn the weight restriction on her son’s seat didn’t include the weight of the car seat itself.

“It’s a scary thing to think that you’ve hooked it in but the weight could be the factor that’s not OK. I never even thought of that. I think many parents would find that to be shocking news,” Koch added.

Tobey Allen, Safety Seat Check Coordinator with the Virginia Department of Health said parents should know the lower anchors have a weight limit and parents should know what it is.

“If you are in a crash, depending on the severity of the crash, it’s how much weight that’s going to be able to hold that is important. You don’t want to exceed the weight requirement because of that reason. If you have too much weight, it could cause the anchors to fail,” Allen explained.

This week the NHTSA will implement the new weight limit labels. They will clearly spell out the restrictions for parents.

Examples of frequent mistakes with marginal-to-critical consequences:

Confusion/misinterpretation of weight limit; not factoring in weight of both car seat and child.

Consequence:  Lower anchors, connectors and tether may not adequately restrain the car seat and child during a collision.

AAA Recommendation:  At a minimum, set the lower anchor weight limit to 65 pounds for the combined weight of the child and the car seat; require standardization and clear labeling of car seat weights and limits.

Using LATCH in the center position of the rear seat by using inner bars of outboard lower anchors when not specified as an option by vehicle manufacturer.

Consequence: Lower anchors and connectors may not adequately restrain the car seat and child during a collision.

AAA Recommendation: Make lower anchors available in all preferred seating positions, including the rear center seat – generally the safest seating position.

Not securing or stowing the tether when a convertible seat is used in a rear-facing position.

Consequence: In a collision, the loose tether strap/hook may swing freely, injuring the child or other passengers (e.g., projectile hazard).

AAA RecommendationManuals should emphasize need to store the tether and indicate where it should be stored.