For many parents, even just installing a car seat can feel overwhelming, let alone ensuring that it is done properly for safety.

In fact, many parents are not up to date on the proper guidelines. Research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration National Transportation Safety Board shows that 96% of parents think they have installed their child’s car seat correctly. However, studies from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that nearly half of child car seats are installed incorrectly.

That’s why it’s crucial for parents to be informed — or seek resources and guidance. This is what inspired the first-of-its-kind Toyota for Families app to help guide the installation of a car seat. Toyota is committed to child passenger safety from our design development to education.

A Well-Known Issue

Toyota engineer, and mom, Jennifer Pelky is all too familiar with the learning curve that many parents face when it comes to keeping their children safe in the car.

“When I first had my child and I went to the big box baby store to pick out my car seat, I looked at the wall of car seats and all the selections available. I had no idea where to start,” says Pelky. “Once I did pick a car seat, I wasn’t sure how to check to make sure that I was installing it correctly.”

Car seats, when installed and used correctly, can reduce injuries in a crash by more than 70%, and booster seats reduce the risk of injury by 45%, the CDC reports.

Since vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death among American children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it’s essential to get parents the right information to prevent these tragic losses.

Becoming the Solution

Pelky’s first-hand experience inspired her to become a child passenger safety technician (CPST) to help other families with the same concerns.

“I thought, ‘I’m an engineer in safety and if I’m struggling to figure this out, a lot of people must be having trouble,’” says Pelky.

So, she faced the challenge head-on.

Pelky teamed up with fellow moms, dads and safety experts including Toyota engineer, Lindsay Babian, advanced technology senior planner, Janelle Pharris, internet marketing analyst, Ryan Johnson, and senior manager of project management engineering, Suhail Mirza, to help solve these concerns. As a result, the team tapped into their personal and professional expertise to create Toyota for Families, a digital took kit that features helpful car seat installation instructions and videos.

Toyota for Families was developed to address some of the finer, more complex aspects of car seat installation, and was sparked by a casual breakroom conversation between Pelky and Babian. Now accessible through the Toyota app (iOS and Android) and, Toyota for Families provides parents and caregivers with the guidance they need to properly safeguard their infants and children when on the road.

“When Jennifer approached me with this, I saw the need for a solution. Now, parents, caregivers and grandparents who find it a challenge will also have a tool to help them succeed,” says Babian.

Helpful Tools at Your Fingertips

In addition to providing resources through Toyota for Families, connecting parents with the tools to help them secure their children while traveling the world’s open roads is a priority for Toyota.

In 2004, Toyota partnered with the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to create Buckle Up for Life, a nationwide program that partners with local organizations to teach parents and caregivers about the proper use of car seats.

“With all the different car seat and vehicle seat combinations that exist, it can feel overwhelming,” Pelky says. “But there are safety risks when we don’t get it right.”

The people driving these initiatives and creating these tools are part of a community of Toyota employees working to find innovative solutions and improving products that steer toward mobility for all.

Tips for Parents

  • Treat buckling up as an automatic part of life so your child does too.
  • Use a car seat every time your child travels in a vehicle.
  • More than eight out of 10 crashes occur at speeds lower than 40 mph.
  • Deaths have occurred at 12 mph; about the speed you drive through a parking lot.
  • Nearly 75% of all crashes happen within a few miles from home.
  • Never let a child out of the seat while the vehicle is in motion. If your child needs a break, stop the vehicle as soon as it is safe to do so.
  • Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle.
  • Do not let your children play in an unattended vehicle. Teach them that a vehicle is not a play area.

Originally published September 24, 2021

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