car seats

The most common mistake parents make when installing car seats is leaving the strap too loose, allowing the seat to slide forward, backward or side to side.

Car accidents remain a top killer of our kids and one of the best ways to protect them is with a correctly installed car seat.

According to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, between 2010 and 2014, 2,885 children died in motor vehicle accidents nationwide. That's around 11 kids a week. To provide a quick refresher on car seats for parents, we spoke to Sherry Rector, co-owner of Honest 1 Auto Care, to talk about properly installing car seats. 

Q: How can parents learn to properly install their car seats?

A: The internet provides a lot of information for installing car seats, providing information on which direction the seat should face, where in the vehicle is the safest location, how to properly verify that the latch is secure, etc. Also, the local fire departments will also help parents learn how to properly install car seats.

Sherry Rector

Sherry Rector is co-owner of Honest 1 Auto Care. Provided

Q: What are the most common things that parents do wrong when strapping babies and toddlers into a car seat?

A: The most common mistake is the strap is too loose allowing the seat to slide forward, backward or side to side. Ensure that the strap is secure and the belt is snug. During the summer, make sure the metal buckle is not too hot. The metal latches become very hot to the touch when sitting in the summer sun. Verify that the buckle will not cause discomfort or burn the child.

Q: What are the most common car seat installation mistakes?

A: Consumer Report states that approximately 46 percent of all car seats are installed incorrectly. A common problem with installing the car seat is the path of the seat belt that is used to secure the car seat. Some car seats have multiple slots or openings that can be used for various vehicles, making it challenging when a parent is trying to select the proper path.

Q: What should parents look for in a car seat?

A: You should look for a car seat that fits your budget, fits your child and fits your vehicle. There are three types of car seats — rear-facing, forward-facing and booster seats. Before purchasing a car seat, read the label for weight, height and age to ensure the seat will fit your child. Be prepared to change car seats to the appropriate seat as the child grows.

Purchasing a used car seat is strongly discouraged. You don’t know if any of the parts are missing, if the seat has been in any previous accidents or if there may even have been a recall that you're not unaware of ... there is just no way to ensure that they're safe.

Q: What are the laws for car seats in the state of South Carolina?

A: Infants under 2 must be in a rear-facing car seat in the rear seat of a vehicle.

A child at least 2 years old or who has outgrown the rear-facing car seat must be secured in a forward-facing seat with a harness in the rear passenger seat of the vehicle.

A child at least 4 years old who has outgrown his forward-facing car seat must be secured by a belt-positioning booster seat in a rear seat of a vehicle until he/she can meet the height and fit requirements for an adult-safety seat belt. A booster seat must not be used with a lap belt alone.

To find the complete laws for car seats in SC visit https://scdps.sc.gov/buckleupsc/safety_seat_law

Q: When should parents switch from an infant car seat to a convertible car seat?

A: Most babies will grow too tall for an infant car seat before they become too heavy. The guidelines state that when the crown of the babies head is less than 1 inch from the car seat’s carrier shell or when he exceeds the height limit for the seat.

Q: When can kids move out of a car seat?

A: In South Carolina, a child can move on from the booster seat when they are 8 years old or 57 inches tall and can be properly secured by a safety belt.

Q: When can kids sit in the front seat of a car in South Carolina?

A: Children under age 13 are safest when properly restrained in the back seat. Legally, they can sit in the front seat when they are 57 inches tall and can be properly secured by a safety belt. LCP