Texas Travel

Are you Using your Car Seat Properly?

By Mindy Baxter 1.24.13

There are plenty of ways to use your child’s car seat wrong. Unfortunately, Frank Luera, coordinator of Texas’ Safe Riders Traffic Safety Program, has probably seen them all. But that experience has given him a sharp eye for when car seat use is done right. Here is his advice.

Use the seat

Kids don’t age out of seats, they grow out of them. Weigh and measure your child before letting him or her out of his safety seat. By law in Texas, a child under 4 feet, 9 inches tall and who weighs less than 80 pounds should be in a safety seat.

Use the right seat

Not all 5-year-olds are made alike. One may be tall and sturdy, another short and petite – and they need a car seat that fits their size and stature, not their age. Whether using an infant seat, a convertible seat, or a booster, check the manufacturer’s guidelines for height and weight and follow those guidelines.

Use the right seat the right way

With harnesses and angles and getting the seat facing the right way and different car seat designs, Luera knows it’s tough to get the seat – especially infant seats – installed correctly. Carefully read the directions, follow them precisely, and don’t assume installation will be quick or easy. If you encounter trouble, seek out a certified child passenger safety technician.

“What I’ve learned is intelligence, socio-economic status, what area of Texas you’re from – none of these things matter,” Luera says. “All people are different, but we consistently see the same problems of people not using the seat, not using the right seat, or not using the seat the right way.”

With the leading cause of death in Texas for children under 14 being car crashes, getting car seat installation wrong could be a mistake too costly to make. And since members can take advantage of the child safety seat program for a mere $30 per seat, there is no reason not to have your child protected.