Safety Restraint Misuses

At least half of safety seats

are unintentionally misused. Partial misuse of a safety seat reduces its effectiveness against severe injuries.

Parents’ top 3 mistakes when installing traditional safety seats include:

  • Failure to secure the seat tightly
  • Failure to secure the harness straps tightly
  • Incorrect positioning of the chest clip

To help guard against misuse of safety seats, parents should always:

  • READ seat instructions, labels, and vehicle owner’s manual
  • Install the seat tightly (less than 1 inch of movement) & lock the safety belt

The primary cause of injuries from misuse of booster seats is the misrouting of the safety belt. Common misuses of booster seats and safety belts include:

  • Shoulder belts being placed behind the child’s back, under the child’s arm, or over the booster seat arm rest
  • Shoulder belts not being placed at mid-shoulder position
  • Shoulder belts being positioned too loosely

Car Seat Inspections

Visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website to get help at a car seat inspection station near you. Certified technicians will inspect your car seat free of charge, in most cases, and show you how to correctly install and use it.


To find a seat check event: