It's a scary statistic: 4 out of 5 car seats are used incorrectly. On Sept. 24, certified technicians will be available in numerous locations to make sure children's car seats are approved and installed correctly.
Visit buckleupillinois.org for a list of events and technicians in the area.
When it comes to car seats, there are four stages your child should go through:
1 Rear-facing car seat. While children should be placed in a rear-facing car seat until at least age 1 and 20 pounds, the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends parents keep their children in rear-facing seats until age 2, or when they reach the maximum height and weight for their seat.
2 Forward-facing car seat with harness. After outgrowing a rear-facing car seat, children should use a forward-facing car seat with a 5-point harness until reaching the seat's maximum height and weight. Many of these seats can now be used up to 65 pounds.
3 Booster seat. Children should use a booster seat until at least age 8 (which is Illinois law), but it is recommended up to age 12.
4 Seat belt. A child should only move to this last phase when a seat belt fits him or her properly. This means the lap belt lies across the upper thighs, not stomach, and the shoulder belt lies across the shoulder and chest, not the neck or face.
Illinois Occupant Protection Coordinator Jennifer Toney says children should stay in each phase as long as possible because with each transition some safety is lost. All children age 12 and under should also ride in the back seat.
And remember you're the best influence on your kids, so set a good example by buckling up, Toney says. Plus, on Jan. 1, 2012, Illinois law will change to require all passengers to buckle up, no matter their age or where they are in the vehicle.