Study: Infant car seats don't fit in many new cars

Posted at: 09/20/2013 1:46 PM
Updated at: 09/20/2013 1:51 PM
By: Erika Edwards, NBC News

(NBC News)  Parents spend hundreds of dollars on infant safety seats only to find out the darn things won't fit properly in their vehicles!
Buckling up a child can be, believe it or not, the easy part of dealing with car seats.
The bigger issue is how to get the car seat in the car.
"I have a college degree, but apparently i have to be a rocket scientist to get this installed," said mom Kelly Zimmerman.
A mother of two, Zimmerman had a little trouble getting her top of the line safety seat to sit at the proper angle in her SUV.
She had to resort to a very low-tech rolled-up towel to get it just right.
Studies have shown that a majority of car seats in use are not installed properly.
 Sometimes, that's because the design of the car seat doesn't match the design of the car's seat. 
It's an issue studied by Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center's Dr. John Bolte.
"The actual slope of the rear seat is at such an angle that if you just put the car seat in there naturally, the angle is not going to be in that correct area," Bolte said.
Bolte's team measured 50 car seats to see how they'd fit into 50 different vehicles.
The designs of both seats and cars vary so widely that two rarely make a perfect match without a little finagling from parents.
The experts at free car seat safety checks around the country can help.
And yes, sometimes a rolled up towel or even a strategically placed pool noodle can help get a good and safe fit. 
"You just want to have that base fit nicely in the seat and as tight to the frame of the car as you can," Bolte said. 
A possible fix is coming thanks to computer models from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. 
Engineers there analyzed the geometry of all of the major car seats then shared the information with all of the major car manufacturers.
They'll use that data to help re-design the back seats of 2015 and 2016 models.
That should bring some relief to parents driven a little crazy by car seats.