VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- Installing a car seat may seem simple, but it actually can be a difficult task. It is also something Arianne Mattone says she sees parents struggle with.
"It can be very confusing, especially when the car manual and car seat manual don't blend very well,” Mattone said.
She is a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician who educates parents on how to properly install their car seats.
"I find that parents don't have it installed correctly,” Mattone said. “They either have a seat belt and lower anchor or nothing at all."
Those were a few examples of mistakes she has seen. Another includes has seen parents use lower anchors connectors and seatbelts together when it’s not permitted.
She also knows from her own experiences when she had her first daughter.
"I had my daughter's car seat too loose,” Mattone said. “Her straps were too high and she was rear-facing, and it makes cringe seeing old photos of my oldest with her harness not correct."
She said harness straps need to be at or below the shoulders for rear-facing car seats. Straps need to be at or above for forward-facing car seats.
A report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states 46% of car seats were "misused." The NHTSA defines this as how the car seat is installed that could reduce its ability to protect a child in a crash.
Mattone said the installation method for one car seat may not be the same for other car seats. One common mistake she sees are latches installed improperly.
In a demonstration, she showed a latch for one car seat inserted into the seat belt mount on the vehicle’s back seat. She said this was incorrect, as the latch needed to be attached under the siding of the car seat.
Cities like Norfolk and Virginia Beach and organizations like AAA have car seat safety programs, but they are suspended right now because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
That is leaving technicians like Mattone to pick up any slack. So far, she has met with parents and guided them along the car seat installation process.
She also urged parents and caregivers to thoroughly read their car seat manuals and vehicle manuals before installing car seats.
"I hope that the long haul of this is less kids injured and more correctly installed car seats,” Mattone said.
Mattone's car seat assistance is available by appointment. Click here for more information and for contact information.