Unsafe Passage: The 3 Reasons Why A Child Car Safety Seat Can Be Dangerous

Posted on: 9 February 2015


Safety car seats or booster seats for children are a requirement in all provinces for children younger than 8 or 9 years old. Safety seats for infants and toddlers provide harnesses and padding to restrain a small child in the event of a vehicle crash. Booster seats elevate older children so that the vehicle's seat belt straps will fit across the chest correctly.

While you may know the laws and the four stages of car seats, you may not know the 3 reasons why child safety seats fail:

1) Faulty design or manufacture of the car seat.

Many parents can identify with the difficulty of releasing the harness buckle on their child's safety seat. In at least one case, the failure of the buckle to come unlatched caused a precious toddler to die. She was trapped in a burning car, strapped into her car seat. Despite the best efforts of her mother and others to remove her from the harness, no one was able to free the child.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) received over 6,000 complaints about the particular brand of car seat that trapped the toddler, including stories from frantic parents who resorted to cutting the seat harnesses to free their children.

The NHTSA began investigating the delay in recalling the seats. Finally, the car seat manufacturer recalled 3.7 million of the seats with the stubborn buckles. The company claims that juice and food get stuck in the buckles and make them difficult to open, but that won't stop a class action lawsuit against the company.

Make sure your child's car seat hasn't been recalled by checking Transport Canada.  Also be certain to register new car seats so that the manufacturer can send you information on any problems or recalls with your specific safety seat.

2) Improper training in the use of a car seat.

The US State of New Jersey now has to pay out a $4.25 million settlement for brain damage that was suffered by a tiny adopted infant. The injury to the child resulted from the improper placement of her car seat.

A state worker with the Department of Children and Families incorrectly set the car seat upright rather than at an angle as required for a small infant. The 5 pound baby's head flopped forward, cutting off proper breathing during the 9-minute ride home.

To check to see that your car seat is installed correctly, find one of the child car seat clinics listed on Transport Canada.

3) Pure laziness on the part of caregivers.

Even the most advanced, computerized car seat made out of titanium and rated for space travel won't protect your child if you're too lazy to use it.

It's the caregiver's responsibility to be certain the child is facing in the seat properly,  the restraints are adjusted to hold the child without discomfort and the tethers and seat belt are firmly holding the seat in place.

One mother in the US was convicted of murder and sentenced to 25–50 years in prison for the death of her four-year-old daughter. The mother was drinking and crashed her car. Her daughter was not buckled into her car seat properly.

Another mother in the UK has been found culpable for injuries her child sustained from a car crash. Even though the mother wasn't responsible for the wreck, she had her toddler in a booster seat rather than a required car seat for a child of her age. The mother probably won't face charges, but the damages awarded to her will be reduced because she was found partly responsible for the harm to her child. Talk to a car accident lawyer for more information.