Car seat hassles lead to many parents practicing dangerous driving habits

CHICAGO, Ill. — If a parent encounters lots of hassles while putting their child in a car seat or booster seat, a new report finds they’re much more likely to take a dangerous short-cut when it comes to driving safety. Researchers with the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago say parents who get into the car seat tussle are less likely to follow all of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) child passenger safety recommendations.

Study authors name multiple trips per day or the child being uncomfortable as common examples of “hassles” parents often experience.

The team surveyed 238 parents caring for at least one child between the ages one and 10 during this project. This helped researchers identify 20 common hassles parents deal with in reference to child car seats.

In all, 80 percent admit to having at least some issues with one or more of those 20 hassles. On average, parents usually have a problem with around five separate hassles. Notably, parents who don’t follow AAP recommendations tend to have a harder time with these issues.

Do kids still ride in cars without seat belts?

Roughly half of all surveyed parents told researchers they engage in at least one behavior that goes directly against AAP recommendations. Examples include not always using a child car seat or allowing their child to travel without wearing a seat belt. For each additional hassle a parent complained about, there was a 14 percent increase in the chances of their child not using a car seat all the time and an 11 percent jump in the odds of their child traveling without wearing a seat belt.

“Our study shows that hassles with car seats are common and associated with unsafe practices,” says senior study author Michelle Macy, MD, in a media release. “Parents need to make car safety a consistent priority. Planning for extra time to be sure everyone is buckled up and not bending the rules helps children know safety isn’t negotiable. When kids know that riding in a car seat is a strict rule, they better accept the situation and don’t fuss as much.”

When mom or dad just want to make a quick trip to the store, making sure their child is wearing a seat belt may feel like an unnecessary precaution. However, researchers say parents should consider the fact that car accidents are a leading cause of death among children under 10 years-old. Seat belts and car seats may be a hassle, but a necessary one.

“Clinicians can ask parents about specific hassles with child car seats and offer tips on managing these problems,” the pediatric emergency medicine specialist and associate professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine concludes. “It is critically important to reinforce with parents child passenger recommendations and help them achieve consistent safety practices.”

The study is published in Academic Pediatrics.

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