Did you measure your car before choosing a car seat for your child? If you didn’t, the seat you’re using may not be compatible with your vehicle, a new study finds. Researchers from The Ohio State University College of Medicine found that “car seats and vehicle seats don’t align properly more than 40 percent of the time.” The university collected dimension samples from 61 vehicles and 59 child car seats to identify the most common sources of incompatibility.
Julie Bing, the study’s lead author, emphasizes that all car seats are safe and pass strict government regulations, and safecar.gov offers tips on installing your car seat correctly. But Bing also stated that depending on the fit, a particular car seat may not offer the best protection in your specific car.
“To really optimize the safety of a child’s car seat and provide the best protection for the child, one must make sure it fits properly in the vehicle,” she said in a press release. Bing, who is also a research engineer at the university’s Injury Biomechanics Research Center, encourages parents to take car measurements so they can make an informed decision. Among the most important considerations: making sure the angles of the car seat and the vehicle’s seat align and that the vehicle’s headrest does not interfere with the car seat.
Bing also suggests asking to try out the store’s floor model before purchasing. “We recommend parents go to the store and ask if they can take the model off the shelf and go out to their car and try it,” Bind said. “It might look great on the shelf and have all the greatest safety ratings, but if it doesn’t fit in your vehicle, it may not be the best option for you.”
What kind of research did you do before purchasing a car seat? Tell us in the comments.