BOISE -- It's a parent's responsibility to keep a child safe, especially on the road. Properly using a car seat can greatly increase the chance that a child survives a crash. But each year, hundreds of children die because they're not safely secured.
Nicole Askew lives for playful moments at home with her 13-week-old daughter, Tyler.
"Being a mom is the most difficult job I've ever had," said Nicole Askew.
The mother of two knows her role comes with a lot of responsibility.
"I research everything. If I can't find it online I look for it in a book," said Askew.
That includes finding the right car seat.
"I wanted a convertible seat that could be from five up to at least 40 pounds," she added.
Idaho law requires children under the age of seven to sit in a car seat or booster seat.
According to the Idaho Transportation Department, between 2010 and 2012, six children were killed in Idaho crashes even though they were in a car seat. In addition, four children under the age of seven were killed that were not properly restrained.
Statewide, dozens more children were injured in those years because they were not in a car seat.
Those numbers are enough to make any parent listen, but Askew says her focus on car seat safety stems from a story she saw on the news many years ago.
"There was a horrific crash that I remember hearing about here in Boise where a child was not in her seat correctly and in the wrong position in the car," said Askew.
It happened in a parking lot off North Milwaukee Street in 1996. A two-car, low impact crash was enough to set off the airbags in one car. The passenger side airbag hit a child restrained in a car seat in the front.
The one-year-old girl was killed.
Investigators who responded still can't forget what they saw.
"Car seats do not belong in the front seat," said Ada County Coroner Erwin Sonnenberg. He was called to the scene after the crash.
"Children's deaths are very traumatic," added Sonnenberg.
It’s never recommended, but some parents have to put their child in the front seat if they drive a truck or small compact car.
Experts recommend only placing children in forward facing seats in the passenger seat and making sure that airbag is turned off.
Otherwise, don’t risk it.
Because there are so many questions surrounding the use of safety seats, Nicole Askew decided to take her car in for a safety seat check.
It's a free service offered by Ada County Paramedics.
"The baby seat looks good, the angle looks correct," said Erin Garcia, a certified car seat safety technician with Ada County Paramedics.
She told KTVB there are some common problems they see, including straps too loose on a child's chest.
"It's important to have them nice and tight, within an inch, for them to properly work," said Garcia.
Remembering not to put children in thick coats before strapping them in is also important. Garcia recommends installing the car seat in the middle row whenever possible.
"You did good," she said after checking Askew's safety seats.
The Ada County coroner says there's been a lot of focus on car seat safety in recent years. The number of deadly crashes involving children has decreased because parents are being more vigilant, but there's one relatively new threat present in some cars: the third row.
"Those are not a good place to put a car seat for an infant," said Sonnenberg.
That's because a rear-end crash can crush the back seat and a child sitting there.
"It's not because the parents want them to get hurt, it's just the circumstances that take place," added Sonnenberg.
So what can parents with multiple children do? Experts recommend putting older children in the back row and making sure they're properly restrained.
"As long as the seat is installed properly it should do its job," said Garcia.
By completing a checkup, Nicole Askew was able to get her questioned answers. She's back on the road with a passing grade and peace of mind.
"Their lives are in our hands. They didn't choose the seat. They didn't choose to go on that drive. We're the ones that are putting them in there," added Nicole Askew.
For more information on how you can call and set up a free safety seat check, follow the links below:
To view Idaho safety laws from the DMV, click here.