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Study: Many parents ignore car seat safety guidelines

Few parents are following the recommended car seat

Few parents are following the recommended car seat guidelines according to a new study from the University of Michigan. Credit: AP

When it comes to children's safety in cars, many parents are not following the recommended guidelines, according to a new study.

Researchers from the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor observed more than 21,000 children and found few are using the age-appropriate safety restraints and many kids are placed at risk by riding in the front seat.

In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued new Guidelines for Child Passenger Safety. The recommendations include:

 — rear-facing car seats at least until 2-years-old

 — forward-facing car seats with a five-point harness for as long as possible until the child is the maximum weight and height suggested by the manufacturer

 — booster seats until an adult seat belt fits properly, when a child reaches around 57" in height (which is the average height of an 11-year-old)

 — riding in the backseat until the age of 13

"We found that few children remain rear-facing after age 1, fewer than 2% use a booster seat after age 7, many over age 6 sit in the front seat," said Michelle L. Macy, co-author of the study.

Researchers studied three years worth of data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and also recorded information they observed when drivers with children arrived at gas stations, fast food restaurants, recreation centers and child care centers.

The study also found, as children aged, a decline in child safety seat use and an increase in being unrestrained were observed.

To make sure your child's car seat is installed correctly, it's best to have it inspected. On Saturday, Aug. 18, you can have your car seats checked for free.

In Nassau, the State Police will inspect car seats at the Long Island Rail Road station in Seaford (on the northwest corner of Jackson Avenue and Sunrise Highway) from 9 a.m. — 1 p.m.; call 516-882-0630 to schedule an appointment.

From 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Suffolk County Police Department headquarters (30 Yaphank Ave., Yaphank) will also offer free car seat inspections. Call 631-648-7100, ext. 208 for an appointment.

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