Shocking Truth About Car Seat Safety May Change the Way You Buckle Your Kid

Say What!? 34

kid in car
Not the safest spot in the car
Quick, what's the safest spot in the car for your kids? Need a hint? If you're just following your state's child safety seat law and plugging the kid's car seat into the LATCH system in your car, they're probably not in it.

Did your eyes just bug out? Now you know what goes through my head every time I buckle my kid into her booster seat. But don't take my word for it, there's yet another study out that says just putting your kids in the backseat of your car does not mean you're putting them in the "safest spot." You ready for this?

The best place in the entire car for your kiddo is the middle seat in the back of the car. Turns out when researchers from University of Buffalo studying crash-related fatalities specifically looked at seat location, they found the backseat could be as much as 86 percent safer than the front, but it's the middle seat that really hit the safety jackpot. That's a whole 25 percent safer than the window seats!

Holy huge jump in safety Batman! I'll be honest, I always put my kid in the middle, but most parents I know don't -- and I happen to know these parents care just as much about their kiddos as I do. So why aren't more parents hip to this knowledge?

I mean, it all makes sense. The farther our kids are from the windows, the farther they are from any kind of impact to the side panels. But when I think about it, most child safety systems aren't set up for the so-called "safest" spot. We parents are getting a whole lot of mixed messages on the "best practices" front.

The car and booster seat laws have to specify backseat in general because parents with more than one kid can't put each child in the middle seat (you think they're annoying each other when there is a seat between them? Imagine if they were fighting for that one spot ... yikes!). Still, the way the laws are written, it's confusing because most of us think "ooh, I'm following the law, so I must be doing the best for my kid." Not exactly.

And what about the car makers? Ever looked in your backseat? What do you see in the middle "safest spot in the car" seat? Or rather, what don't you see? Did you say a LATCH system for the kid's car seat! Ding, ding, ding! I haven't had one of those in the middle of a car in all the cars I've owned since this law went into effect.

The feds told us LATCH was supposed to make putting car seats into cars correctly a snap and keep our kids safer, and the lower anchors are now required -- by law -- in every lightweight (read likely to cart a family) vehicle in America. Except in the one seat where the researchers are telling us our kids are safest from a crash. Gee, that makes sense. Snort.

Seems like we need to get this message out to more moms and dads ... because the folks who are supposed to be guiding us aren't doing a good enough job! This is a good message for parents with just one kid, but it's also a message for parents with two or more who can do some shifting around between stops or maybe use that extra row in the mom-van that's never used. This could change some parents' practices big time.

Where is your child's car or booster seat located and why?


Image by Jeanne Sager

safety, gear, travel


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

Littl... LittleManMama

My car's manual specifically states NOT to put a car seat in the middle. My old car--a Saturn Vue had LATCH in the middle seat so that's where his car seat was. The safest car seat is the one that is properly installed, fit to the child and used properly each time. That means if the manufacturer doesn't recommend a car seat in the middle seat, the middle seat is not safest in this particular instance. Car seat safety is a blend of factors, there isn't always a one size fits all answer.

Kwiat2 Kwiat2

I think this is a no-brainer. My son has always been in the middle. But now we are expecting, one will have to move to the side. Guess I gotta to see which kid I like better. No, I'm kidding of course. I guess the newborn will take middle since it will be less able to withstand impact.

Momma... MommaGreenhalge

My oldest child is in the middle because he is the only one of the three that is forward facing, therefore the least protected. If we don't get a new vehicle before he switches to a booster, we'll have to put him in one of the outboard positions because our car only has a lapbelt in the middle.

Pamal... PamalaLauren

Of course the middle is the safest, it's everywhere. But when you have more than one child, middle isn't always a possibility.

Momma... Mommajes2

So for the moms\dads with two children whats the best way to put the children in the car? the booster in the middle an the regular carseat on the side?

ashjo85 ashjo85

The size of my car seats doesn't allow for any of them to be in the middle (there isn't room for one on the side, one in the middle). So I have them on either side of the car. When I just had my daughter, and she was rear facing, she was in the middle. I have a Ford Escape 2008, and it has the Latch system in all three seats. I will admit, I don't use it though. The seat travels a LOT from car to car and I've never been able to propery hook up the Latch system. I get frustrated to the point of tears trying, so I gave up.

nonmember avatar coffeemom

Our carseat is in the middle of the backseat. We also had it rearfacing in the middle backseat for the first two years.

Sierr... SierraLynn

How is this shocking? It's pretty common sense. But soon I will have 2 car seats in the back of my camry and there will be one on each side. I'm not outing my very riled up 3 year old right next to our newborn.

kerij... kerijeanbean

Neither of our cars have the LATCH system.  We have three kids, one in a five point harness, one in a high back booster, and one not in a booster, (He is 12, over 100 lbs, and over 4'9") only the youngest is in the middle.  Even if we only had the two older boys neither of them would be in the middle since we do not have a shoulder strap in the middle.  

Momma... MommaGreenhalge

MommaJes2, your booster is fine in the middle as long as thereis a shoulder belt as well as a lap belt and the seats both fit in those positions well. Never use a booster with just a lap belt.

1-10 of 34 comments 1234 Last