Preliminary findings from year-one analysis of information entered in the National Digital Car Seat Check Form, commonly referred to as the NDCF, are consistent with feedback from Technicians in the field checking sets, according to Elizabeth Petraglia. Petraglia is a senior statistician with Westat, a Rockdale, MD, firm that provides data solutions for its partners.

She worked with colleagues Adele Polson and Weijia Ren to analyze data collected between Aug. 1, 2018, and Sept. 30, 2019. Because the Lifesavers Conference on Highway Safety Priorities was cancelled due to concerns surrounding the spread of COVID-19, findings were released publicly for the first time in this webinar. Petraglia’s presentation begins with an explanation of the Year One dataset and provides some background on records analyzed:

  • A vehicle with three children and three seats = three records
  • One vehicle had 10 records – it was a 14-passenger van
  • 13,593 records were analyzed, most of those coming from super-users in the power states of Indiana, Colorado, Vermont and Maryland

Petraglia discusses what kinds of seats were checked, who is having seats checked and issues such as how often the top tether is being used in a forward-facing harness installation. Preliminary misuse rates target challenges facing parents and caregivers looking to keep their children safe.

  • Harness misuse: 1. Too loose, 2. Wrong slot, 3. Chest clip at wrong height.
  • Seat belt installation: 1. Belt too loose, 2. Retractor (engaged or not engaged), 3. Used incorrectly with lower anchors.
  • Lower anchor installation: 1. Seat too loose, 2. Anchors used incorrectly with seat belt, 3. Incorrect use of vehicle anchors.

Because the findings are public and updated in real time, Petraglia said the data has the potential to guide efforts of Technicians and organizations running seat check programs across the country. In addition, she said car seat manufacturers and vehicle manufacturers will be able to look at the data and use what they learn to build enhanced safety into their products.