Study Finds Car Seat Hassles Lead to Dangerous Driving Habits for Parents

Whether it’s a quick drive to the store or a long road trip, car seat safety should be a parent’s priority.

By: Amanda Mushro


Young mother putting her little boy in the car seat, fastening seat belts.

Photo by: ljubaphoto


While every parent can admit that putting our kids into a car seat (and installing/uninstalling the seat especially) can be a pain at times, there is no doubt that car seats save lives. Research has shown that injuries sustained in motor vehicle collisions are a leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 10 years old. Extensive research shows that when kids are properly strapped into a car seat, they are less likely to be injured or killed during a collision. However, a new study shed light on the "hassles" of putting a child into a car seat and the subsequent dangerous outcomes.

According to one study from the Children’s Hospital of Chicago, parents who reported having daily difficulties when using a car seat or booster seat were less likely to follow recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The study, which was published in the Journal of Academic Pediatrics, said the research team surveyed 238 parents with at least one child aged 1-10, and found around 20 common "hassles" that parents deal with while using a car seat or a booster seat.

So, what were some of the hassles? According to the study, they vary, but some parents reported that their children felt uncomfortable in their car seats. Others emphasized making multiple trips in a day, so there was more in and out going on in their car seats.

Not surprisingly, around 80% of parents admit they deal with at least one or more of the 20 hassles from this study. On average, the study found that parents usually have a problem with nearly five separate hassles. Parents who reported dealing with more hassles were less likely to follow the AAP recommendations.

"Our study shows that hassles with car seats are common and associated with unsafe practices," says senior author, Michelle Macy, MD, adding, "Parents need to make car safety a consistent priority. Planning for extra time to be sure everyone is buckled up and not bending the rules helps children know safety isn’t negotiable. When kids know that riding in a car seat is a strict rule, they better accept the situation and don’t fuss as much."

Researchers from the study say they hope the hassles they examined will be turned into a risk analysis that pediatricians can use. So, during children's regular well visits, doctors can discuss these issues with parents and help them work through it all to find solutions. The main goal is for parents to ensure their children are in their car seats correctly.

The AAP has recommended rear-facing car seats for children for as long as possible. Then, forward-facing car seats from the time they outgrow rear-facing seats (around the age of four and up). Next, children may move to a belt-positioning booster seat from the time they outgrow forward-facing seats until they are tall enough (around 4 feet 9 inches and between 8 and 12 years of age) to fit in an adult seat belt.

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