First Ride—Not Always a Safe Ride

This article originated in the November/December 2014 issue of Safe Ride News.

A new study of 267 newborn infants who were discharged from Oregon Health and Science University Hospital between November 2013 and May 2014 shows that almost all (93 percent) of the parents made significant errors in CR use or installation.

The most common serious mistakes included, in order of frequency:
69%—Harness too loose
43%—Installation in car too loose
36%—Angle of car seat incorrect
34%—Retainer clip too low
23%—Seat belt not locked
20%—Use of an add-on seat pad
18%—Harness straps too high
17%—Too little space between the CR and the front seatback
15%—No knowledge of how to adjust the harness

Parents and infants were chosen at random. The study found that families at increased risk for making critical mistakes were those that were less educated, non-white, of lower socio-economic status, non-English speaking, and/or lacking a partner/spouse.

A positive finding was that interaction with CPSTs makes a difference.  Correct usage and installation was 13 times more likely among parents who had had contact with a CPST before the birth. The study’s author has told SRN that 13 percent of the 267 families studied had contact with a CPST prenatally.

The study results were presented at the October 2014 American Academy of Pediatrics Conference. “Car safety seats can be difficult to use correctly for many families,” said lead author Dr. Benjamin Hoffman. “We need to move beyond the idea that we cannot afford to develop and support child passenger safety programs … the truth is, we can’t afford not to.” Hoffman is a professor of pediatrics and medical director of the Tom Sargent Children’s Safety Center at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, Oregon.