AAA: Only 1 in 5 Parents Has Their Child's Car Seat Checked

Written By: CarPro | Sep 22, 2021 12:18:47 PM

It's National Child Passenger Safety Week, with National Seat Check Saturday coming up this Saturday, September 25th.   The annual safety effort by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is designed to raise awareness about the importance of finding the right child seat for your child as well as properly installing it.   Use the NHTSA search tool here to find a car seat inspection station near you.


Latest NHTSA Data

It's an important safety issue. NHTSA data shows that crashes are a leading cause of death for children. Here are some latest statistics:

  • In 2019, 608 child passenger vehicle occupants died in traffic crashes, compared to 636 in 2018. This is a 4% decrease in fatalities between 2018 and 2019, and also a 5-year low.
  • In 2019, 38% of children who died while riding in passenger vehicles were unrestrained, compared to 33% in 2018.
  • In 2019, more than one-third (38%) of children under 13 killed in passenger vehicles were not restrained in car seats, booster seats, or seat belts.
  • In 2019, an estimated 137,000 children riding in passenger vehicles were injured in traffic crashes..

Only 1 in 5 Parents, Caregivers Have Car Seats Checked

According to the NTHSA, in passenger cars, car seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71% for infants and by 54% for toddlers. For infants and toddlers in light trucks, the corresponding reductions were 58% and 59%, respectively. While most parents are confident that they have correctly installed their child’s car seat, the NHTSA says in most cases (46%), the seat has not been installed correctly.

New research from the American Automobile Association and National Safety Council  sheds some additional light on the extent to which parents and caregivers in the U.S. are informed about car seat installation and use.

AAA says according to the National Digital Car Seat Check Form (NDCF) database, more than half of all car seats brought in for inspection to child passenger safety technicians are improperly installed and used. Yet, the general consumer survey revealed only 1 in 5 parents and caregivers seek expert help installing a car seat or securing a child in a car seat.

AAA shares NDCF data that  also reveals:

  1. There are three common mistakes. These include (1) having the car seat installation be too loose, (2) failing to use the tether when installing a forward-facing car seat with either the lower anchors or seat belt, and (3) leaving harness straps too loose when securing a child in a car seat.
  2. Children are often transitioned out of the appropriate car seats before it is safe to do so. More than a quarter of children are moved from forward-facing car seats to booster seats too soon, and more than 90 percent of children using lap-and-shoulder seat belts under the age of 10 should still be in a car seat or booster seat.
  3. Parents and caregivers are less likely to seek car seat inspections as children grow into forward-facing and booster car seats. Child passenger safety technicians inspect about four times the amount of rear-facing car seats than they do forward-facing car seats, and 73 percent of forward-facing seats are not correctly installed.


AAA and the NSC recommends Car Seat Basics as a free online course to help participants understand the four stages of child passenger safety, including rear-facing car seats, forward-facing car seats, booster seats, and seat belts. Participants can complete the full training or select a module on a specific stage of child passenger safety. The course was developed through NSC’s work with NHTSA. For more information on resources,  including free car seat inspections at AAA branch offices, visit


The NHSTA also provides a number of online resources accessible a the links below:


Photos Credit: NHTSA