Overall driving safety requires a lot of thought and effort. Driving with children requires extra precautions. There are many invaluable tips for keeping children of any age as safe as possible whenever they may be traveling on the roads.
The most common cause of death in children under the age of 15 is unintentional injury, and the most common cause of unintentional injury is car accidents. Between 2010 and 2014, 2,885 children died in motor vehicle accidents nationwide — an average of 11 children a week. In 2004, road traffic crashes resulted in more than 260 000 deaths in children and youth aged 0–19 years. Children accounted for 21% of all road traffic injury related deaths worldwide. Globally, road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death in 10–19 year olds.
Why are car seats important? Keeping kids safe in the car is one of our most important jobs as parents and caregivers.
- Car crashes are one of the leading causes of death and injury for kids. Proper use of car seats helps keep children safer in the event of a crash.
- Car seats reduce the risk of injury by over 71% and reduce the risk of death by 28% in comparison to children restraint by seat belts only.
- Booster seats reduce the risk of non-fatal injuries in a crash by 45% among four-to-eight year olds.
What can be done? The best way to keep your child safe in the car is to use the right car seat in the right way. Here are some car seat safety tips and information on how to protect your most precious cargo.
Choosing the Right Seat
STAGE ONE: BIRTH – 1 YEAR
Used from birth to at least 1 year of age or 20 pounds.
- Placed in the back seat
STAGE TWO: 1 YEAR – 3 YEARS OLD
Used until your child has reached the upper limit of the height and weight requirements of this seat.
- Placed in the back seat
STAGE THREE: 4 YEARS – 7 YEARS OLD
Used with proper harness until your child has reached the upper limit of the height and weight requirements of this seat
- Placed in back seat
STAGE FOUR: 8 YEARS OLD AND UP
Massachusetts requires that all children under 8 years old OR 57 inches (4 foot, 9 inches) tall ride in a federally approved booster seat with the seat belt properly fastened.
- All children age 12 and under should ride in the back seat
Car Seat Installation Tips
Even though car seat installation may vary slightly from vehicle to vehicle, there are some basics that always apply. When installing a car seat, make sure to:
- Read the instructions.Don’t try guessing—read the directions thoroughly and make sure you clearly understand how to securely install the car seat.
- Position car seats in the back seat.This is the safest location in the car for a child to ride.
- Reference your vehicle’s manual. Some cars have lower anchors built into the seats that can be used to attach a car seat. Older cars may not have these and require the seat belt to secure the car seat. The owner’s manual will help you find what you need.
- Lock the seat belt. If your vehicle doesn’t have lower anchors, refer to your owner’s manual to find out how to lock a seat belt once the seat is in place.
- Secure tightly.Once the car seat is in place and attached with either the seat belt or lower anchors, wiggle it side to side, back and forth. It should not move more than 1 inch in any direction.
- Adjust the recline angle.For rear-facing seats, it is important that the base of your car seat is level to prevent your child’s head from flopping forward. Most seats will have indicators on the side to help.
- Connect the tether strap.Forward-facing infant car seats have an extra strap at the top as an added safety measure. Double check your vehicle and attach and tighten the tether strap if possible, to prevent head movement in the event of a crash.
Position Your Child Safely
After you are finished installing the car seat, you still need to place your child into it properly to ensure their safety. Below are specifics for the harness system in both rear- and front-facing seats.
To properly position your child in the car seat, you will need to:
- Remove bulky clothing or unnecessary layers.
- Place your child so their backside is flush against the seat without arching or slouching.
- Make sure all straps should lie flat against your child without twists or knots.
- Check that straps are snug but not too tight.
- Verify the chest clip sits level with their armpits.
- See that the shoulder straps connect to the seat at or directly below their shoulders.
Safety Seat Inspection
There are child safety seat inspection locations across the country where an expert will make sure your child will be safe when buckled in. If you don’t know where to go, the NHTSA offers a seat inspection location finder for you to quickly and easily find an inspection facility near you.
More Child Seat Safety Tips
Here are a few additional tips all drivers should keep in mind when it comes to child seat safety.
- Use a car seat every time your child rides in a motor vehicle.
- If you’re transferring your seat to a different car, refer to that car’s manual for specific installation directions.
- Keep your child in a rear-facing seat as long as possible—it’s the safest traveling position.
- Size, not age, should be the key factor in moving your child to the next seat type.
- The back seat is the safest place in your vehicle for a child to ride for age 12 years old and under.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
- The car seat is too loose in your car
- The harness is too loose on your child
- Your infant is facing forward too soon
- Your rear-facing car seat is not at the right angle
- The harness chest clip is in the wrong spot
- The harness straps are in the wrong slots
- You’re not using a booster seat
- Your car seat has been recalled
Register Your Car Seat
Congrats! You chose the right car seat and installed it correctly. Now it’s time to register your car seat with the manufacturer to receive recalls and safety notices so your child can remain safe.
Many kids spend a lot of time in the car, so it is important to learn how to keep them safe on the road. There’s a lot to know! Proper use of car seats helps keep children safe. Follow these rules, tips & best practices to keep your kiddos safe. If you need assistance or have been injured in an accident, call Schulze Law.