Car seat safety is such an obsession for parents. We read the articles, listen to expert advice and join Facebook groups dedicated to the subject.
We strap our kids in tight to make sure they are safe, making sure those straps and that chest clip are in just the right place. With so much attention paid to strapping the child into the seat, it's easy to overlook the other part of the equation: Is the seat secured to the vehicle properly?
Now, a viral video has a lot of parents thinking twice not only about how secure their child is in their seat, but how securely that seat is attached to the car.
Warning: This video is upsetting, although the child was not hurt.
Minnesotan Chad Mock posted footage captured by his dash camera to Facebook this week, and the video has more than 1.2 million views. It shows the moment a 2-year-old girl, strapped into her car seat, fell out of her mom's car and into the roadway in front of Mock's vehicle.
"If it didn't happen in front of me I'd never have believed it," Mock captioned his upload.
Mock got out of his car and picked the child up. He got the child out of busy roadway and flagged down police.
According to the Star Tribune, the child's mom rushed back to the scene of the accident with another child in tow and was upset going to hug her daughter. Police figured out that the car seat didn't have the strap required to secure it to the vehicle, a 2004 Honda Civic that is equipped with the latch system. The driver's side rear door also wasn't completely closed, the paper reports.
The mom in this case is now facing charges: A misdemeanor child passenger restraint system violation, and a license permit violation because she was driving with just an instructional permit.
The Free Press of Mankato reports the mom explained to police (through a translator) that she believed her daughter was secured in the back seat but must have unlocked herself before she fell out of the car.
The mom in this case made some mistakes that day, but this story might help other parents avoid a common car seat mistake. We often check and double check how our kids are strapped in, but don't always check how secure the seat is to the vehicle.
Car seats can become loose without the usual driver of the vehicle knowing. Maybe an adult moved the seat and forgot to secure the top-tether when putting it back , maybe someone was hauling cargo or tilting seats forward in your vehicle or messing around with the LATCH system. Things can change from car ride to car ride, so always check to make sure the seat's not loose before you hit the road.
"You want less than one inch of movement when you give it a firm handshake at the belt path with your non dominant hand," Nationally Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician Wendy Thomas writes for Car Seats for the Littles. According to Thomas, the belt path is "the spot on the car seat where the seat belt or lower anchor strap goes through"
The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia echos her advice, and suggests parents "optimize the safety of [their] child safety seat by using its top tether strap located at the top of the seat. Check your car seat and vehicle manuals for proper use of the tether for your seat. If use of the tether is appropriate, tightly attach the seat's top tether strap to the correct anchor point in the vehicle and tighten."