National Child Passenger Safety Week
September 18th marked the first day of National Child Passenger Safety Week. This annual campaign run by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration highlights the importance of ensuring children are placed in the correct car seat for their size and age.
A booster seat usage survey released by NHTSA shows that 37.4% of children ages 4 to 7 are not properly restrained. Of that 37.4%, 25.8% were restrained by seat belts and 11.6% were unrestrained.
The safety administration also found that car crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13. Between 2010 and 2014, there were 3,181 children under the age of 13 killed, and 601,000 children injured in car crashes in the United States. In 2014 alone, over one-third (34%) of children under 13 that were killed in car crashes were not in car seats, booster seats or seat belts. It is likely that these deaths could have been prevented had parents ensured proper child passenger safety.
Choosing The Right Safety Seat For Your Child
Infant, convertible, booster seat, or all-in-one? We understand that choosing the right car seat for your child can be confusing, as there are a wide variety of products on the market. To ensure that your child is as safe as he or she could possibly be, follow these few simple tips:
- Select a car seat based on your child’s age and size.
- Always refer to your car seat manufacturer’s instructions for weight and height limits.
- Keep your child in their car seat for as long as possible. As long as your child meets the manufacturer’s weight and height requirements, keep them in that seat.
- No child under 4’9” should ride in a car without a car seat.
- Do not let a child sit in the front seat of your vehicle until they are at least 13 years old, regardless of their size or weight.
Rear Facing VS Front Facing
Substantial research has shown that rear-facing child seats provide more protection for a child in a car crash than a forward facing car seat would. In a crash, a rear-facing child seat cradles and moves with your child to reduce stress to the child’s fragile neck and spinal cord. A child under the age of 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. A good rule of thumb is to keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. Studies show that in a child’s second year of life, they are 5 times less likely to die or sustain serious injuries when they are in rear-facing car seats.
Once your child outgrows the rear-facing seat, you can move them to a forward-facing seat with a harness. Your child is not ready for a booster seat that uses the vehicle’s seat belt until they have outgrown the height and weight limits on the forward-facing car seat.
Typical Progression Of Car Seats
- Birth – 12 months: For the best possible protection, your child under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. There are different types of rear-facing car seats; infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and 3-in-1 car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time.
- 1 – 3 years: Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. This may result in many children riding rear-facing until age 2 or older. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.
- 4 – 7 years: Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it’s time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.
- 8 – 12 years: Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly, the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snugly across the shoulder and chest and not across the neck or face. Children under age 13 should ride in the back seat.
Safety Checks In Your Area
Texas law requires all children under 8 and shorter than 4′ 9″ tall to be in a car seat, which can carry fines up to $250. TxDOT hopes to remind drivers that properly buckling children in is an every day, year-round responsibility.
TxDOT’s free car seat inspections are available by appointment through September 24. To schedule a check text “seat” with your zip code to 876526 or log on to SaveMeWithASeat.com.
How A Carlson Attorney Can Help You
Here at The Carlson Law Firm we are strong proponents of child passenger safety. All to often we see children who are injured because they were not properly restrained in a motor vehicle that was involved in a car crash. We urge you to check with professionals to ensure that your car seat’s are properly installed and that all belts and harnesses are resting on your children at the right height.
If you, or someone you love, have been injured in an auto accident, contact The Carlson Law Firm right away for a free, no obligation, initial consultation.
- Written by Jill Fowler