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If you're a parent of a small child, ensuring that your children are safely buckled into their car seat is a priority for you. During the winter, however, you may be imperiling your child while they ride in their car seat, without even realizing it. Read on to learn about how to ensure your child is as safe as possible in a car seat during the winter, in case you are involved in an accident.

The winter coat your child may be wearing as they ride in the car may be adding a deceptive amount of bulk to your child. If you buckle your children into their car seat while they are wearing a coat, it may appear as though the shoulder straps are sufficiently tight when, in fact, they're perilously loose. During an accident, a puffy jacket will compress a great deal, allowing three to four inches of slack in the shoulder straps of a car seat which you'd previously found to be snug. This is more than enough room for a child's small shoulders to slip free from the restraints when the car is in a sufficiently forceful accident.

The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute recently examined the effect that a bulky winter coat can have on the effectiveness of a child's car seat. Researchers used a toddler-sized dummy wearing a bulky winter jacket in a simulation of an accident occurring at 30 mph. Even at this relatively low speed, when the test car was involved in an accident, the shoulder straps on the child dummy slipped off, allowing the dummy's shoulders to fly forward and flop down, which could potentially result in serious injury to a child involved in a similar accident.

Take steps to prevent your child from being injured unnecessarily in a crash. To test and see if your child's coat is too bulky to be worn while in a car seat, put the child in the seat at the shoulder strap tension you would normally use. Then, remove the coat and return the child to the seat in thinner clothing. If you can see that the shoulder straps are slack, or you can fit your full hand under the straps, then you should not allow your child to wear that coat while in the car seat. You should never be able to fit more than two fingers under the shoulder strap near the child's collarbone. You might want to consider putting a blanket over your child while they ride in their car seat, or dressing them in thinner, closely-fitted clothes for car rides, such as a fleece jacket.

If you or your child have been injured in a car accident in New Jersey, contact the knowledgeable and seasoned Morristown personal injury attorneys Smith & Doran at 973-292-0016.

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