Free Car Seat Checks Open to the Public

Click here to view Free Inspection schedule information in Spanish (Español):
¿Viaja Su Niño Seguro? Reciba Inspeccion Gratuita: Lunes 28 de Octubre. Son las tres a la seis por la tarde.

National Child Passenger Safety Week September 15th–21st

OHS Fitting Stations–call for appointment
Wilmington DMV
By Appointment only
Tuesdays & Thursdays
9:00 am–1:00 pm
Wednesdays 4:00 pm–8:00 pm
2230 Hessler Blvd.
Map and Directions
Dover DMV
By Appointment Only
Tuesdays 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Wednesdays 4:00-8:00 PM
303 Transportation Circle
Map and Directions
DSP Troop 7 - Lewes
By Appointment Only
18006 Coastal Highway
Map and Directions

What is the Right Seat for My Child?

As technology in child passenger safety evolves...that answer is every changing. In short, the ‘best’ car seat is the one that fits your child, fits your vehicle and one you will use every time your child is in the car. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has just updated its guidelines as of March 2011 to make that answer easier for parents.

Four Steps for Kids in Car Seats

In short:

Under the age of 1 – Children must always ride rear facing
Ages 1 through 3 – Keep your children rear facing for as long as possible in either an infant or rear facing convertible seat. They should remain rear facing until the height and weight limit for rear facing use on that seat has been reached. This may result in many children riding rear-facing to age 2 or older
Ages 4 through 7 – Keep children in a forward facing seat with a harness to the maximum height and weight limit allowed by the seat. Then transition them to a booster seat.
Ages 8 through 12 – Keep children in a booster seat until they either exceed the height/weight requirement for remaining in a booster seat or until they are big enough to fit the criteria for fitting appropriately in a seat belt. The shoulder belt should lie across the shoulder and chest, not cross the neck or face, and the lap belt must lie across the upper thighs not the stomach.


Children are 5 times safer riding rear facing than forward facing
Do not rush to transition your children to the next step.
4 out of 5 child safety seats in Delaware are not installed correctly

Need Help Interpreting the Guidelines? Call one of the OHS Fitting Stations:

New Castle County » 302.434.3234 | Kent County » 302.744.2749 | Sussex County » 302.387.2324

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Delaware Child Restraint Law

Delaware's child restraint law reads - All children must be properly restrained in a federally approved child safety seat appropriate for the child's age, weight and height up to 8 years of age or 65 lbs whichever comes first.

Additionally, children 8 through 15 years old are required to be properly secured in a seatbelt. The fine for violating the law is $25.00. AND children under 12 years old or 65 inches in height are still required to sit in the back seat if there are active airbags in the front passenger seating position.

Where Can I Get My Car Seat Checked if I Can't Make a Community Car Seat Check?

A Child Restraint Fitting Station is a location that is open year-round, where parents can go to have their child safety seats inspected. Most of the services are free, but Christiana Care does have a charge for their service.

Below is a list of Fitting Stations located throughout Delaware.

New Castle County:

» OHS Fitting Station – At Wilmington DMV, Rt. 13 South in New Castle, Hours: Tuesday and Thursday 9 am - 1 pm, Wednesday 4 pm - 8 pm. For an appointment contact Larry Kelley at (302) 434-3234.

» Christiana Care's SAFE KIDS Fitting Station – At the entrance to the Women's Health Care Building at Christiana Hospital on Ogletown-Stanton Rd. in Newark, Hours: Tuesday and Thursday 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., contact (302) 733-2472 to leave a message. Specify that you are calling to request an appointment for a car seat check, someone will return your call. Small fee.

» A.I. DuPont Fitting Station – At A.I. DuPont Hospital for children, Rockland Center One - across from Hospital in Wilmington. Hours: every Wednesday 5 p.m. - 8 p.m. by appointment only. Call (302) 651-5437.

» Car Seat Certified Of Delaware – At Buckley's Auto Care, 1604 E. Newport Pike, Wilmington. Hourly appointments- Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Saturday 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 pm. Call (302) 999-8285 or email Fees starting at $24.95 and up.

» First Years Safety – At Birth Center of Delaware – 1508 W. 7th Street Wilmington, DE 19805 By appointment only. Register on-line at - Fee $16 per fitting. Contact Justine Sosnowski,

Kent County:

» OHS Fitting Station – At Dover DMV, Rt. 113 South in Dover, Hours: Wednesday 4 pm - 8 pm, by appointment only. Call (302) 744-2749.

Sussex County:

» Delaware State Police Troop 7At Rt. 1 S/B Lewes, DE. Select Saturdays by appointment only. Call (302) 387-2324 for an appointment.

» OHS Fitting StationU of DE Cooperative Extension office, contact Mike Love at (302) 856-7303 for an appointment.

If you have questions about Delaware's child passenger safety program, please contact (302) 744-2740.

For more information contact us at (302) 744-2740

Latch Install
Latch System

LATCH stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children. Beginning in 2002, installing a child safety seat became much easier for many parents. That's because all new child safety seats and all new motor vehicles (except SUV's) made after this date must be equipped with the new LATCH system.

If you have LATCH systems on both your car seat and in your vehicle seat, putting in a child restraint system can literally be a snap! The LATCH system on a child safety seat consists of a tether strap & hook at the top and two more hooks (either on two separate straps or one continuous strap) on either side of the base of the safety seat.

An example of the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) System is featured in the picture on the right. The top tether strap attaches to a point behind it. You can also see the lower attachment on the seat hooked to a bar in between the vehicle cushions.

The LATCH system in vehicles consists of three little bars to attach the hooks to. Two of them will be found in the crack (or “bight”) of the back and bottom vehicle seats like in the picture above. The third for the top tether to attach to will be found behind the seat on a rear shelf or panel for 4-door vehicles, or behind the seat in the floor, or attached to the back of the seat frame in mini vans.

To use this system, parents place the child seat in the vehicle seat, connect all the hooks, put their weight in the seat and then pull to tighten.

Some vehicles manufactured within the last couple of years may be able to be retroffitted for LATCH anchors, as may some child safety seats made in the last few years.

If I don't have LATCH in my car but I have it on my child's safety seat, can I still use the safety seat? The answer is yes. All new seats made with the LATCH system must still be able to be used the traditional way with seatbelts.

Guidelines for Securing Children in the Car Seat

Children Who Ride Rear-Facing:
Keep harness straps snug like suspenders. You should be not be able to pinch harness webbing between your fingers when you grip it at your baby's collarbone.
Harness straps must be at or below your baby's shoulder level. If you find that even when putting the harness straps through the lowest slots, the harness straps are above the baby's shoulder level, you should not continue to use that seat until the baby grows into it.
Make sure the plastic retainer clip is placed at the baby's armpit level. The retainer clip is used to hold the straps in place so they can effectively hold your child down in the event of a crash.
It is extremely important to recline a rear-facing seat at a 45-degree angle for an infant. If the baby is sitting up any straighter, especially when very young, the head could fall forward and cut off its ability to breathe. As your child gets older, the seat can recline between 30 and 45-degrees.
If you use a convertible seat, avoid using seats with T-shields (hard plastic triangles near the buckle) or seats with trays. These could injure small children in a crash, and often allow too much space between the straps and the child. Seats with a 5-point harness system are recommended.
Do not attach extra padding or dangling toys to the safety seat. These toys could harm your child if you were involved in a crash. Extra padding puts too much space between the baby and the car seat, and has not been crash tested.
For Children Riding Forward Facing:
These children should be facing forward in the back seat of the vehicle, after they have reached the maxium weight limit for a rear facing convertible seat. Many convertible or forward facing seats have a “foot” or recline arm at the back of the car seat's base. Flip that out to help stabilize the seat. If your car seat has a lever at the front of the seat to adjust the angle, adjust it so that the seat sits completely upright.
Harness straps should go through the slots at or above shoulder level. Most car seats have a reinforced plastic hump or bar in the back. If yours does, then the harness straps must go over that bar and through the top slots.
Make sure that the retainer clip rests at armpit level.
If your car seat is equipped with a tether strap on the back, use it. Tether straps cannot be used for rear-facing seats, but should be used for children facing forward to limit the amount of space that your child's head will come forward in a crash. Consult your driver's manual to see if you have anchor points in your vehicle to attach a tether strap to, and follow your manufacturer's instructions.
For more information on the use of tether straps and the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) universal attachment system, click on the Hot Topics section of our Home Page.
Children and Booster Seats:
Transition your child into a booster seat when he/she has exceeded the height and weight limits for the harness with their forward facing car seat (anywhere from 40 – 65 lbs). Children should remain in a booster until they are at least 4’9” tall – which may be anywhere from 8 – 12 years old.
Booster seats raise children up so that the lap and shoulder belt fit them properly.
The lap portion should fit snugly and low over the hips. A lap belt that comes across the child's stomach could cause internal injuries in the event of a car crash. The shoulder strap should come across the child's chest, not his or her neck.
There are two types of booster seats: High back boosters and shield boosters. High back booster seats look like a chair with no legs, and are generally considered safer than shield boosters.
Use high back boosters with their harness strap systems for children between 30 and 40 pounds. Remove the harness system for children over 40 pounds, and use the booster seat with a lap and shoulder belt.
Never use a device that looks like a sling to pull a shoulder belt away from your child's neck. If used, the “sling” also pulls the lap belt up to rest on the stomach area, which could result in organ damage during a crash. And never put a shoulder belt behind the child's back.
Once the middle of the back of your child's head is above the top of the high back booster seat, it is safe to move them into a seatbelt.
If you have lap belts only in the back seat of your car, never use a booster seat with the lap belt only. It is more dangerous to do that than to place your child in just the lap belt without the booster.

Tips for Installing Car Seats

The safest place to install a child safety seat is in the center rear position. ** Note this may not always be possible if installing the car seat using LATCH attachments.

Once installed, the child safety seat should not move more than an inch side to side. To check this, grab the seat at the point where the seatbelt goes through it and shake it. If the seatbelt loosens up, it's not tight enough.

To get the seat in tightly, try this trick (may take two people). Put the car seat in the vehicle, route the seat belt through the designated path (most car seats will have stickers to show you where the seat belt should go for rear-facing or forward facing seats) and buckle the seat belt. Put all of your weight into the seat by pushing down on the seat with one hand. With your free hand, take up all of the slack from the lap portion of the seatbelt. Test the seat to see if it's in tight enough.

Locking Clip
What's a locking clip and do I need to use one? A locking clip is a metal object shaped like an H or T, and comes with new safety seats. If you're installing your child's car seat behind the driver or passenger seats in the back, you may need to use one. Pull the shoulder portion of the seatbelt all the way out until no more comes out. Slowly feed the seatbelt back in. If you can hear little clicks, or feel it “ratchet”, then you probably don't need to use one. If the seatbelt freely goes back in or catches only every once in a while, it's likely you need to use one. Read your manufacturer's instructions for specific details.

Never attempt to secure a child safety seat with more than one seatbelt. It may seem like a good idea to use both the middle and passenger seatbelts to tighten down the seat, but it is dangerous.

Do not put a towel between the safety seat base and the vehicle seat unless you are using a rolled one to achieve a 45-degree angle. Many parents try to protect their seats, or achieve a tighter fit by using a towel under the safety seat. This can be dangerous as well. A towel puts too much space between the car seat and vehicle seat, and may actually make it easier for the child seat to slide out of position. Instead, try using a sheet of rubber shelf liner. Most dollar stores or grocery stores carry them. The rubber shelf liner sheets are extremely thin, and provide a good gripping surface, especially on leather seats.

Consumer Advisory from NHTSA:

NHTSA 15 Passenger Van Safety Alert

More information of 15-passenger van safety and free downloadable materials

  • Local Crash Survival Story Highlights Importance of
    Getting Child Safety Seat Installation Help From Professionals

    Dover - Six month old Addison Reel is a lucky baby. How did she manage to survive an October car crash that shut down Rt. 13 in Camden with just a scratch on her head when her father suffered a closed head injury and broken ribs, and his passenger broke 12 ribs and punctured a lung? Her father, Scott Reel says it's because he and his wife Laurie decided to have one of the Office of Highway Safety's Child Passenger Safety Fitting Station Coordinators show them how to properly install a child safety seat in their vehicle...

    5 Photos: (Click the image for larger view!)
    Car Crash Photos Car Crash Photos Car Crash Photos Car Crash Photos Car Crash Photos

  • (As did proper car maintainance, and cargo storage.)

    On our way to Phoenix, just a few miles away, my husband (driving our 2002 Odyssey) hit an obstacle in the road. We don't know what it is, but we all felt the bump, then were airborne, and onto a gravel shoulder. We skidded on the gravel. The van hit a barrier (right at the rear driver's side, where my 4 year old daughter was seated.) It then flipped across the highway. My husband was braking the whole way. (He had just had the tires rotated and pressure checked, and the brakes replaced.) It slowed us considerably. We went into a ditch at an angle and became airborne. We went down on the passenger side of the vehicle, nose first, and then flipped over upside down...

    41 Photos: (Click the image for larger view!)
    Car Crash Story Photos Car Crash Story Photos Car Crash Story Photos Car Crash Story Photos Car Crash Story Photos

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Seat Check Gift Certificate

Last Updated: Tuesday, October 22, 2013
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