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Study: Parents Must Be Diligent When Buying Car Seats

One of the most confusing and frustrating tasks for both expecting parents and parents with small children is often selecting a car seat. This is likely because they are confronted with a multitude of options while standing in the store aisle, all of which seem to offer different features and all of which seem like viable options.

Indeed, the choices may seem so overwhelming that a parent simply buys the one that seems to have the most features, the most positive online reviews or the highest price tag.

According to a recently published study by researchers at Ohio State University, this may actually prove to be the wrong approach, and that parents should not necessarily rely on their smartphones or wallets when purchasing a new car seat, but rather tape measures.

The problem, say the researchers, is that parents often purchase car seats that do not actually fit properly inside their vehicles, something that can jeopardize the overall effectiveness of the car seat in the event of a motor vehicle accident.

They arrived at this startling conclusion after first creating a data pool consisting of measurements taken from 61 vehicle makes and models, and 59 types of car seats. From there, they created and analyzed a possible 3,600 possible vehicle-car seat combinations, as well as 34 real world car seat installations.

They made some of the following startling findings:

  • Fewer than 60 percent of the rear-facing infant seat combinations had a proper fit, meaning the angle of the vehicle seat and the base angle of the car seat met manufacturer’s requirements.
  • More than 66 percent of the forward-facing child seat combinations lacked a proper fit, meaning they did not back up against the vehicle headrests.
  • Roughly 42 percent of child safety seats are otherwise incompatible with the shape and size of vehicle seats.
  • The researchers indicate that while all car seats offered for sale have passed stringent federal safety regulations, parents must make sure they select the right one by taking the necessary measurements and, if possible, doing a test run.

“We recommend parents go to the store and ask if they can take the model off the shelf and go out to their car and try it,” said one researcher. “It might look great on the shelf and have all the greatest safety ratings but, if it doesn’t fit in your vehicle, it may not be the best option for you.”

Here’s hoping parents heed this advice.

If the unimaginable happens, and you and your child are injured in a car accident caused by the recklessness of another, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional to learn more about your options for pursuing justice.