Parents urged to take extra time to properly buckle children in safety seats
(09/19/2018) - A statewide study conducted by Wayne State University in 2015 found that 74 percent of child restraint devices were misused in Michigan.
That increases the risk of injury to a child during a crash.
"If I have friends and we're going somewhere and their kids don't have car seats, we're not going," said Angel Austin.
Safety comes first for the busy mom, who did not turn her now 3-year-old around to a forward-facing seat until his legs were too long to be in a rear facing car seat.
Theresa Atkinson, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Kettering University, has inspected child safety seats for a decade. She said precision matters -- from the harness, to the chest clip, to the tightness of the straps.
Keeping toddlers in a rear-facing seat can improve their odds of walking away from a crash with no injuries, especially to their head and spine.
"When you're in a front crash, the seat takes up the energy of the crash," she said. "Your head is supported and your back is supported and so your spine stays in alignment."
Keeping children in car seats is also the law.
Sgt. Mike Troutt, a 24-year veteran with the Michigan State Police, said he comes across children not properly restrained just about every other week. It's a problem he takes seriously.
"Most of them that I've stopped, they say it's in their other car or it's at home," Troutt said of parents' explanations for why their children are not properly secured in a vehicle. "Parents need to take responsibility and make the right choice for them."
Troutt and his daughter attended a workshop together on how to properly install a car seat, knowledge he's put to use himself when driving around his grandchildren.
"It took a couple of hours," he noted. "But if you don't have to lose a child, it's worth the two hours."
See "Related Links" on the right side of this story for more information on proper car safety seat installation.