SALISBURY, Md. - Latch versus seat belt. Forward or backward. With so many options, there's often a lot of room for error in using a car seat.
"What we find locally is that four out of five vehicles are installed incorrectly," said Tammy Griffin, Coordinator of Safe Kids Lower Shore.
In fact, automobile crashes are the leading cause of death in children ages one to 13, according to Consumer Reports. But many of those deaths are preventable with properly installed, and properly used car seats.
To help change those numbers, a team from Safe Kids Lower Shore hosted "Seat Check Saturday" to help parents and care givers learn how to correctly install car seats, and protect their most precious cargo.
"It's my son's life and I care for him, you know, with everything I have," John Huchmuth said.
He said he was just driving by and decided to make sure everything was smooth sailing for his nine-month-old son in the back seat. He quickly found a critical mistake.
"We had him in front facing and it had to be rear facing, because I was just going by poundage,"Huchmuth said.
Some other common mistakes are keeping loose items in the car that can become projectiles in a crash, not using a safety seat at all and not reading the instructions for car seats.
A lot of times parents will give it their best shot," Griffin said. "They'll read the manuals but ... it could just be really overwhelming."
And while a lot of attention is given to infant and toddler safety seats in making sure they're properly installed and the straps are positioned correctly, a lot of the mistakes are made with older children. Maryland state law requires those up to 8-years-old remain in a safety seat, and they must reach a certain height.
"I thought it went by height and other people thought it went by age," said Cathy Niblett of Salisbury.
It was a question that now has an answer for Niblett and her 10-year-old granddaughter, who's just short of the four-foot-nine requirement to graduate from a booster seat.
And although Griffin says some parents are quick to release those eight and up - even if they're short of four-foot-nine - that habit will get costly October 1. The fines for violating seat belt and child safety seat regulations goes up from $25 to $50.
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