We were given a tip from one of our classes to ensure that our car seat was inspected before taking little baby Weeks home from the hospital. Despite feeling fairly confident we did it "right", I put in a call to my town's fire department earlier this week. They directed me to the local state police barracks (in MA, we have state police stations pretty much in every other town). The officer I reached was kind and cordial and set up an appointment to go through things with us.
We arrived last night thinking things would take about 5 minutes, especially since we had dinner plans with friends in the city a half an hour later. One hour later, we left. To make a long story short, there are many tricks to ensure your car seat is installed safely. We had done everything "right", but not well. He moved the seat from behind the passenger seat to the middle for two reasons, 1) Side air bags are dangerous to kids and 2) Any side impact from a crash could easily be lethal to a child. He also helped make sure that the seat moved no more than an inch in either direction.
Most importantly, and to my delight he went over the importance of having a "clean" car. In an accident, any junk in the car is an instant projectile. I experienced this first hand this past October. I was rear-ended and a bowl I had in the back seat was slammed all the way to the front and shattered into hundreds of pieces. I try to make sure my car is nearly always clean, but J is another story. He car is constantly a disaster of epic proportions. He's really going to have to learn to put his stuff away at the end of the night for the safety of our little one.
I definitely recommend making sure everyone goes through a car seat inspection, no matter how well you think you did. We'll definitely be making sure our parents do the same before we have them drive our little one anywhere!