A picture may be worth a thousand words but Jenna Rabberman wants her viral photo to say only six: Always buckle in your child correctly.
The Pennsylvania mother of two young boys earlier this week posted a photo of her mangled Honda CRV, left nearly unrecognizable after another driver crashed directly into it after running a red light. In front of the wreckage were the seemingly unscathed car seats belonging to Rabberman's children, including a newborn.
"THIS is why you buckle your kids into their car seats correctly every SINGLE time. Even when they scream because the straps are tight. Even when they complain about the chest clip or being rear facing," she wrote in the caption of the post, which has been shared more than 273K times since she posted it Tuesday night.
"We stopped for milk on the way home from preschool yesterday. We were minutes from home. Another car slammed into us. You never think it will happen to you."
Rabberman said Beckett, who turns 3 next month, and his 6-week-old brother, Brooks, "escaped without a scratch." The paramedics who arrived on the scene told her there could have been a different outcome "had I not taken the extra two minutes to be sure they were buckled correctly."
Rabberman told TODAY that she didn't realize how badly damaged her car was until the towing company later pointed out which vehicle was hers.
She decided to post the photo of her wrecked car and the intact car seats on Facebook "as a PSA for friends and family," but made the post public after a friend asked to share it.
She never imagined it would go viral.
"I'm so thankful that we get to be an example of what TO do instead of what not to do. I hope people will see my story and realize that car seat safety is not something to take lightly," she said.
"I was just a normal mom going about our normal routine. I never expected the worst but still did everything in my power to keep my kids safe, because there is nothing more 'worth it' in the world."
Rabberman said that her son Beckett has complained about being buckled into his car seat "since the day he was born." He also recently started asking to face forward in his car seat because many of his friends do.
"I was starting to feel like 'that mom' by keeping him rear facing. I'll never second guess that again!" she said.
Children must ride in a rear-facing car seat until they turn 2 in most states but laws vary from that point, depending on the child's weight and height.
Rabberman said both of her children's car seats will be replaced, and that her family hasn't purchased a replacement vehicle yet, "but you can bet I'm getting another Honda CRV."