FORT MYERS, Fla. - A WINK News Call for Action investigation uncovers startling facts about most parents and what they think they know when it comes to installing car seats safely.
February 22, 2012, two-year-old Eva Daghra died following a crash at the intersection of Fowler and Market streets in Fort Myers. According to the police report, the little girl exceeded the weight limit in her expired car seat, was not buckled in and the seat was placed in the front, forward facing, all incorrect procedures when it comes to properly protecting kids in crashes.
Her mother, Monique Dahgra, now faces charges in her girl's death. Police say she knowingly installed the car seat incorrectly but we found out many parents don't realize their car seats are installed incorrectly.
Experienced dad of three, Chip Wigglesworth told us he has, "installed a car seat many times."
But even he was surprised to learn, his own kids were at risk of serious injuries.
"Oh my God, wow. I'm lucky, it was scary looking back.... really grateful nothing happened," he said.
Chip took his car seat to Lina Quintana, the coordinator for the Kohl's Kids Safety Program to make sure his seats were in correctly.
When we asked Lina how many car seats are installed incorrectly she told us, "all of them."
According to a survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 20 percent of parents admitted they don't read instruction manuals for installing safety seats. Yet 90 percent of parents said they were confident their kids were buckled in safely.
"The car seat can not move from side to side more than an inch," Lina showed us. "You want to make sure your hand can fit thru freely because in the event of a crash, we want the seat to have movement so it protects the baby's spinal cord."
Another big mistake parents often make is using the "latch" system on the car seat and seat belts at the same time. You are supposed to use one or the other, whichever one the car seat manufacturer recommends.
Chip was amazed to see the seat after it was inspected.
"She actually made that seat base become part of the car. I never thought you could get it that tight," he said.
"You might have a really good vehicle, you might have a really good car seat, but if you don't have that seat properly installed in that vehicle, you might not have a really good outcome," warned Lina.
When choosing the right car seat here's what you need to make sure you have:
--Proper seat for your child's age, weight and height
--5 point harness
--Know if it's made to be forward or rear facing or both
Remember, Florida law requires children to be in the back seat, rear facing until they are one year old and 20 pounds. Pediatricians recommend rear facing up to two years of age.
For more information on where to go in each county for help to make sure your car seat is installed correctly, click here.