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Most child car seats are installed incorrectly, putting kids at risk

Approximately 75 percent of child car seats are used incorrectly, according to statistics from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, substantially increasing the risk that a child will be injured or killed in the event of a crash.

Car accidents are the leading cause of death for children under the age of 13 in the United States, and many of those deaths involve improperly installed or poorly maintained car seats. Although federal regulators have been trying for years to simplify child safety restraint systems in order to increase their efficacy, proper car seat use remains a confusing task even for many of the most safety-conscious parents.

One common installation error occurs when a child safety seat is secured using a seatbelt alone, which can allow the car seat to move too far forward in the event of a rear-end collision or other crash. When this occurs, the child’s head and neck are more likely to be injured. To reduce this risk, safety experts say car seats should be secured using the anchors and loops that are built into most newer vehicles.

To help parents and caregivers better protect children’s safety when using and installing child restraint systems, the NHTSA has compiled a series of car seat instructional videos on its website. In addition, the agency has been working on a program that would allow vehicle manufacturers to recommend which child restraint systems are most appropriate for each individual model of vehicle, the New York Times reported.

Arizona child safety seat law

In 2013, Arizona lawmakers strengthened the state’s laws regarding child safety seats in motor vehicles. Currently, Arizona statute requires that children under the age of eight and less than 4’9” tall must be secured in an appropriate child restraint system when riding in a motor vehicle. Different types of seats are required for children of different ages, heights and weights, ranging from backward-facing, reclining seats for infants to booster seats for older children.

Although adults and older teens are generally held responsible for their own seat belt use in Arizona, state law holds drivers responsible for violation of seat belt and child restraint laws by passengers under the age of 16. In addition, failure to comply with Arizona’s child safety restraint law is a primary enforcement offense, which means that police can stop and ticket drivers specifically for that offense.

Talk to an attorney if your child is hurt in a crash

If your child has been hurt in an Arizona traffic accident, his or her legal rights may be the last thing on your mind. However, the decisions you make in the immediate aftermath of a crash can have a dramatic impact on your child’s access to the medical and rehabilitative care he or she needs in order to ensure the best chances of maximum recovery.

Before discussing your child’s injuries or the circumstances of the crash with an insurance company — and before accepting payment from them — be sure to seek advice from an experienced personal injury lawyer who can help you improve your chances of receiving maximum compensation for your child’s injuries, as well as for your lost income and any other related expenses.

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