What's Your Installation IQ?
According to the study, just 26.9 percent of parents installed a child car seat correctly. This means that three out of four parents could use some help.
Installation is not as complicated as it may seem, says Julie Vallese, a consumer safety expert for Dorel Juvenile Group, a manufacturer of car seats. Vallese also is certified as a child passenger safety technician (CPST). "It only feels like parents need a Ph.D. in car seat-ology in order to get it right," she says.
The first thing about car seats any parent should know, she said, is that "the right car seat for them to use is the one that fits their child and their car — and the one they will use correctly each time."
There are two types of child car safety seat systems. The first is LATCH, which stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children. The second is the seatbelt system. In the U.S., you can use either system, Vallese said.
While some experts prefer one over the other, the two systems are generally considered equally effective.
"Both the LATCH system and the seatbelt system work equally well," said Lorrie Walker, the training manager and technical advisor for Safe Kids Worldwide, which certifies child passenger safety technicians. NHTSA agrees.
"LATCH was introduced as a way to make it easier to get it right," Vallese said. But people make mistakes with both systems, she said.