There's a big difference between having something and knowing how to use it properly. This is especially true of safety equipment, like child car seats. Unfortunately, not everyone knows how to install a child's car seat correctly, and that can lead to some seriously unsafe situations.
Toyota wants to make sure that this isn't something that keeps happening, so some of its engineers who also happened to be mothers got together and created a function in the Toyota Owners app called Toyota for Families. This free app gives clear instructions on properly installing a child safety seat in a 2021 Toyota Sienna -- though instructions for other models are in the works.
"I designed the parts for securely attaching a car seat myself, yet there is still some confusion about proper car seat installation, which can become a real problem," Lindsey Babian, engineer of body design for seats for Toyota, said in a statement Tuesday. "When Jen approached me with this, I saw the need for a solution. Now, parents, caregivers and grandparents who find it a challenge will have a tool to help them succeed."
The Jen that she's talking about is Jennifer Pelky, engineer of vehicle performance development for interior safety and vice chair-elect of the National Child Passenger Safety Board. Babian, Pelky and a third team member -- Janelle Pharris, an advanced technology senior planner for Toyota and a former marketer for Graco child seats -- worked together to create a resource for parents that not only showed them how to install a car seat but would give specific information based on where in the vehicle the seat was to be installed.
To help clarify things further, the Toyota for Families resource will also make recommendations as to which type of child seat to use based on the child's weight and height.
According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a correctly oriented and installed child safety seat can reduce the probability of injuries in a vehicle crash by as much as 70%. Given that, we'd love to see more vehicle manufacturers follow Toyota's example and make sure that vehicle owners are provided with the information they need to see their seats are installed safely.