CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – A new report shared by AAA found more than half of car seats checked by certified technicians are improperly installed and could fail to protect children in a crash.

September 18 through September 24 is National Child Passenger Safety Week. AAA Northeast is raising awareness of the misuse of car seats and asking parents to get the car seats checked by a certified child passenger safety technician. Data from the National Digital Car Seat Check Form shows two of every three car seats are misused, and parents may be transitioning a child to a new car seat too soon.

“Most parents think their kids are in the right seats and that the seats are installed the correct way,” says Mary Maguire, AAA Northeast Director of Public and Government Affairs “but the reality is that nearly half of car seats are installed incorrectly, leaving kids vulnerable to injury in a crash. National Child Passenger Safety Week offers parents an opportunity to make sure their children are safe in their car seats and booster seats.”

Massachusetts State Police have been hosting several free car seat checkups across the Commonwealth all summer long, up to September 28. This week, there will be four locations available:

  • Tuesday, September 20
    • State Police Headquarters in Framingham, 470 Worcester Road
    • State Police in Dartmouth, 265 Faunce Corner Road
    • State Police in Danvers, 485 Maple Street
  • Saturday, September 24
    • East Longmeadow High School, 180 Maple Street

You can also find a car seat inspector through the website.

Car crashes are the leading cause of death for children. Two children under 13 were killed every day in 2020 while riding in a vehicle and another 278 were injured, according to AAA. The Massachusetts IMPACT crash database says 96 kids have died in crashes in the state since 2015.

AAA is offering tips on what to look out for when buying a new car seat:

  • Don’t buy a fake car seat: Be careful of where you buy a car seat. Some sold online at a deep discount may be fake. Never buy a used, open-box or refurbished seat and make sure new seats have labels to ensure it meets all U.S. federal safety standards. Counterfeit seats will usually appear alongside real seats in search results, so it can be hard to spot the difference. Be wary of unfamiliar sellers and avoid international marketplaces.
  • Fix these common mistakes: The most common mistake for a car seat involves the seatbelt or harness being too loose. The car seat should not be able to be wiggled more than one inch. Other mistakes include failing to tether when installing a forward facing car seat with a lower anchor or lap-and-shoulder belts, leaving harness straps too loose, and improper use of a lower anchor.
  • Don’t move your child to the next car seat too soon: The American Academy of Pediatrics and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommend parents keep children rear-facing as long as possible.
  • Don’t get too comfortable: As children age, parents get more relaxed about putting their kid in a car seat. If the child’s neck comes into contact with a shoulder seat belt, a booster seat should be used until they grow more.