Consider the potential risk of child passenger-related accessories that are not crash-tested
Protecting your most precious cargo is one of the most important things you can do as a parent or caregiver. There are hundreds of items on the market that appear to be safe, but may actually be putting your child at an increased risk for injury or death.
These items include items such as: mirrors, additional head support, seat covers, harness strap covers, seat belt adjusters, window shades and more! These items are not crash tested and could affect safety during a crash.
As a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician and instructor for the past 19 years, I can honestly say that the discussion of non-regulated items is one of my most challenging and least favorite.
Picture this: You’re a new parent-to-be and excited to craft the perfect registry list for your baby on the way. As you walk down countless aisles, some questions come to mind such as, “Which is the safest car seat?”, “Which mirror should I get?”, “Are seat covers okay for my vehicle?” and so on.
Parents want to give their child the latest gadgets and toys, so their bundle of joy is content and safe. So, when a technician shares safety concerns with these products, it can be a difficult conversation. The very last thing any technician or instructor wants to do is offend or upset someone who clearly cares about their child/children. We merely want to teach best practices, in order to protect everyone in the vehicle the best possible way.
AAA Ohio Auto Club supports best practices that are evidence- and research-based. Your Child Passenger Safety Technician is required to share this information as part of the car seat inspection.
Here are some of the most popular non-regulated items we see in vehicles.
Mirrors can put parents at an increased risk of a crash and increase injury during a crash.
- They are a distraction for anyone transporting a child— rather than watching the road, drivers are tempted to look back at that sweet little face. As long as you are not placing anything in their hands that could be a choking hazard and the car seat is installed properly, your child should be safe and sound.
- These mirrors can also become projectiles in a crash, because they do not stay affixed to the head restraint.
- During a crash, car seats can lift off the seat for a moment before landing in a resting position. The head of your child is in a direct line to that mirror, which could cause injury or death.
We highly recommend caregivers not to use this unsafe device. If you have concerns about your little one, make frequent stops to ensure they are okay and remember not to give them bottles or other choking hazards (if you can feed them before a long trip, that’s best). Whether it’s their first tiny cough, or a heart-breaking cry, it’s all too-tempting to glance back when you have a car seat mirror. Following this best practice can eliminate the urge to look.
We do not recommend car window shades that contain a bar with a retractable shade. This could become a projectile in a crash and cause injury or death—instead utilize a window cling shade. If there is one already built into the vehicle, it means your vehicle manufacturer has crash tested that vehicle with the shade, and takes on any liability.
Between crushed up Cheerios and small plastic toys, parents/caregivers just want to keep their vehicle interior clean. While we understand the desire to cover your vehicle seat, we only recommend using seat covers that are made by the same manufacturer as your car seat. Other covers can shift or put too much padding underneath your car seat, which may affect the safety of that installation.
At AAA, our certified technicians care about your family’s safety. We strive to educate our communities with best practices to reduce the risk of injury and death. If you have any questions about other non-regulated items, or would like to schedule a car seat check, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kellie O’Riordan is AAA Ohio Auto Club Traffic Safety Program Manager.