Improperly installed car seats an issue with parents

4:12 PM, Feb 23, 2013   |    comments
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DENVER- It's a scary number. Eighty percent of parents don't strap their kids in car seats properly.

Car accidents are the leading cause of death among children, accounting for more than 1,300 deaths a year.

9NEWS has been following the story of a 4-year-old boy left paralyzed by a tragic crash.

Gavyn Wilkens unbuckled the chest clip on his car seat as his mom Aimee was driving him home from daycare this summer.

Aimee thinks she was looking in the mirror trying to get Gavyn to buckle up, when her car slammed into the back of an RTD bus.

Gavyn spent more than 7 months in the hospital, before coming home earlier this month.|

A recent study found that every year more than 84 percent of child restraints and 41 percent of booster seats were found to be misused.

"The most important decision parents can make each and every day is to choose the correct type of child restraint system," said Vera Fullaway, a child safety expert.

Fullaway says the most common mistake by parents is choosing the wrong safety seat or booster for your child.

"They need to take into account the child's age, weight, height and some behavior issues. Once the child has reached somewhere between 9 months and 2 years old, depending on the size of the infant carrier, parents should graduate their child to a rear facing convertible seat," Fullaway said.

What some parents may not realize is that rear-facing car seats can hold a child up to 40 pounds.

"After that point the child seat can be turned forward facing anywhere from 40-90 pounds,"Fullaway said.

And then somewhere from 4 to 6 years old, depending on their weight and height, parents can graduate their children into a booster with a lap and shoulder belt.

If you're ever unsure about installing a car or booster seat-- you can always take it to your local sheriff's office and they'll install it correctly for free.

Some other common mistakes:
-The seat is too loose in the car
-The Harness too loose on the child
-Harness straps are through the wrong slots
-The seat not being at a 45 degree angle

For more information go to or

Click here for a guide to choosing a car seat.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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