Health Team

Study: Not all vehicles compatible with car seats

Posted September 15, 2015

A new study set to be released by the Ohio State University College of Medicine suggests that many cars may not match up well with certain child safety seats.

Researchers measured the angles of back seats, their width and the role headrests play. They tested 59 car seats in 61 vehicles for a total of 3,600 different combinations, finding that car seats weren't compatible about 40 percent of the time.

Megan Murphy is like many new moms. When her son was born, she carefully chose what she thought was the best safety seat for him. When she put it in her car, however, she had to use a pool noodle to make it fit right.

"I thought we had a pretty standard car that pretty much any car seat would work," she said.

OSU researcher Julie Bing, who led the study, said pool noodles and other do-it-yourself fixes are needed to make seats fit.

"Roughly 35 percent of the time you would need that pool noodle or towel to kind of tip the seat back to where it belongs," she said.

Before parents go shopping, Bing says they should measure the back seat of their vehicle to compare the dimensions with the different brands and models of seats. Parents should also ask to try it before they buy.

Headrests often interfere with the fit of forward-facing seats, so parents should measure the height of the headrest in the back seat of cars and see if it can be either adjusted or removed.

"It might look great on the shelf and have all these great safety ratings, but if it doesn't fit in your vehicle then it may not be the best option for you," Bing said. "We really recommend that parents see if they can try it in their vehicle before they purchase it."

Another recommendation is that parents get professional help to install car seats. Many hospitals have programs that helps parents fit seats before they take newborns home.

In Wake County this week, car seat checks will be provided by certified child passenger safety technicians at the following locations:

  • Wednesday, 2 to 4 p.m. in the Target parking lot in Knightdale
  • Thursday, 2 to 4 p.m. at the Wake County Human Services Public Health Center

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