With my expected new born scheduled to arrive at the end of October, I had the good fortune of having to install my first infant-only car seat. As a seasoned Connecticut "car" accident lawyer, I took it upon myself to inspect a variety of brands. These car seat brands included a Britax, a Chicco and a Graco. This blog is sounding like an automobile liability insurance commercial! Never the less, I picked the Britax.
I was excited about this infant car seat purchase. I was now taking full responsibility for my future daughter's car travel safety! I actually started earlier when I traded in my candy apple red GS sports car for my new silver Hybrid SUV with all of its multiple air bags and braking safety mechanisms.
The Britax infant-only car seat looked like a child car seat that would protect an infant even in the worst of rear impact, side impact or front end automobile "car" crashes. My daughter was going to love this car seat. She was going to be safe and look adorable at the same time. Who could ask for more than that?
The Britax infant car seat was delivered to my office. One of my clients, an auto mechanic who builds race cars, was at my office when the car seat was delivered. We took the car seat out of the box. My client looked at it and advised me that it looked solid, well made and crash worthy. He jokingly suggested that if I didn't want it he could put it in one of his race cars. I felt comfortable with the purchase. I was ready to have this seat installed. I was ready to go.
Unfortunately, when I went to have it installed, the car seat base was too big for my SUV. When I say that the car seat base was too big, the rear facing car seat did not leave enough space between the infant car seat and the back of the driver's seat to allow me, the driver, to drive while seated in a comfortable position.
The solution was for this dad to go by another car seat. This "dad to be" traded in his Britax for a Graco. This personal injury lawyer and soon to be dad is still trying to decide where the culpability lies. Should he be upset with the car manufacturer Lexus or with the car seat manufacturer Britax? Maybe the culpability lies with the "dad to be" for not checking the car seat base measurements!
Ladies and gentlemen, enough of the satire. Infant car seats are a serious business. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or "NHTSA" advises us that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children between the ages of one and twelve. They also tell us that three out of four children are not properly secured in a car because their car seats are not being used correctly.
In talking with infant car seat installers certified under the Safe Kids Connecticut program, four out of five car seats are installed wrong. Wrong infant car seat installation may result in too much car seat base lateral movement, improper seat angulation and/or improper strap and buckle application. A car seat can get loose over time and need both reinspection and reinstallation. An infant car seat that is angled too high can cause serious personal injury to an infant by cutting off his or her airway passage. A car seat that has a base that is not properly leveled and that is too loose can cause serious personal injury or even death to a small baby with significant collision impact. As many pediatricians would tell you, an infant child does not have the musculature structural development to support his or her head.
Connecticut has some general child passenger safety laws. First, an infant must remain rear-facing until one year of age and 20 pounds. It is actually safer if the baby is kept rear- facing until the baby meets the maximum height or weight limit for the car seat. The American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines now make it the norm for children to ride rear-facing in a car seat until age two. Second, a toddler must remain in a car seat until the height or weight limit of the seat is reached. Thirdly, a child should ride in either a car seat or booster seat until the age of seven and the weight of 60 pounds. A child should ride in a booster seat until they are at least 4'9". It is recommended that a child ride in the back seat until age 13 and that children, teenagers, as well as adults always wear a seatbelt. Finally, if a car seat has been in a car crash, discard it and buy another one. The seats integrity may have been effected by the crash. Don't be a cheap skate! You can't put a price on your child's safety.
I would like to formally thank the Safe Kids Connecticut program for the installation of my soon to be daughter's car seat at the Brass City Mall on Saturday September 24, 2011. In particular, I would like to thank police officers from the Waterbury Police Department, Cheshire P.D. and the Beacon Fall Police Department. These police officers were most helpful in their efforts at installation of our infant car seat.
If you, or a family member, has a new born, infant or soon to be newborn, please contact your local police department or a branch of the Connecticut State Police to help you with your child's car seat installation or inspection. They are most helpful and will gladly assist you having one of their certified and accredited officers inspect your car seat and/or properly install your car seat.
Lastly, don't forget that a hospital will not let you bring your new baby home in a motor vehicle without a properly installed car seat. So get your child's car seat in early and remember that "failing to plan is planning to fail"! It's all about taking responsibility as a caring and loving parent.
At The Rotatori Law Firm, you can find a seasoned car accident attorney in Stamford who can assist you with your case.