JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – According to traffic safety officials, car crashes are a leading cause of death for children, and nearly half of car seats are misused.
That means parents are strapping their children in not realizing they aren't being protected the way they should be in the car.
National Child Passenger Safety Week teaches caregivers the do's and don'ts when it comes to car seat safety.
"The biggest thing we see is people don't read the manual and assume they have it right," said Danielle Kessenger, child passenger safety lead at Wolfson Children's Hospital. "We know 59% that think they have it right really don't. And the misuse rate is even higher than that. Nationwide it's between 75% and 95%."
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says from 2013 to 2017 there were more than 3,000 children under the age of 13 killed while riding as passengers in a car.
NHTSA says car seats and boosters are one of the easiest ways to keep children safe -- when they're installed correctly.
Car seats can reduce the risk of fatal injury in a crash by 71% for infants and by 54% for toddlers.
"Car seats aren't just bubble wrap," Kessenger said. "They're not a magical device. In order for them to protect the children, it has to be used correctly. The safety features that are built into the vehicles and the car seats work together to protect the child, but only if it is used correctly."
Kacy Clopton's new baby will be here in less than two weeks, and she said getting the car seat checked was essential for her and her husband.
"There's a huge amount you might miss in the owner's manual that looks right, just by the naked eye, but having a professional come and tell you, 'This is exactly how it has to be. This is what we're looking for. You don't want it to move an inch side to side or front to back.' Thinking about which angle the baby's head is sitting at, all things like that, that I haven't fully processed yet, " Clopton said.
Safe Kids Northeast Florida makes it their mission to educate and conduct car seat safety checks year around.
"100%, everyone should come out and do this. This is amazing. And it's on the house," Clopton said. "This is an incredibly important aspect of safety for children."
If you're interested in getting your car seat checked, all you have to do is call Safe Kids Northeast Florida and schedule an appointment. You can find more information here: https://www.wolfsonchildrens.com/about/safe-kids-northeast-florida.