Child motor vehicle safety understandably causes huge consternation for
parents across our country. There’s justification for strategic
concern. Vehicular injuries are a leading cause of death and severe injury
among the young. Many of the most terrible outcomes could be prevented
by proper use of child car seats and booster seats.
When used correctly, these devices reduce the risk of death by up to 71
percent for infants, and 54 percent for toddlers. However, the
CDC reports that approximately 46 percent of car and booster seats are misused in
a way that reduces their effectiveness. Are you prepared? Here’s
what you need to know.
Which Car Seat Is Right for My Child?
Government safety standards for car and booster seats haven’t changed
much since the latest updates in 2011. The following basic guidelines
reflect the government’s current recommendations. The NHTSA recommends
keeping children in their prescribed seats for as long as possible before
changing to the next level.
Infants (birth to 12 months)—use only a rear-facing car seat.
Age 1-3 years—use a rear-facing seat until they reach the seat’s height/weight
limit, and then change to an age-appropriate forward-facing seat with
Age 4-7 years—use a forward-facing seat until they reach the seat’s height/weight
limit, and then change to an age appropriate booster seat.
Age 8-12 years—keep the child in a booster seat for as long as possible, switching
only to a seat belt when the child is large enough for the belt to cross
the lap (not the stomach) and the harness to cross the chest (not the
face or neck).
In addition to these guidelines, all children under 12 should ride in the
back seat for their safety, regardless of which type of car seat (or lack
thereof) is used.
Additional Safety Tips
Check state guidelines and regulations. Each state has specific requirements for car seat safety standards. Check
to make sure the seat you choose fits these criteria.
Sign up for recall notices. Car seats are commonly recalled for safety issues. Register your car seat
with the manufacturer to be notified of any recalls. The NHTSA also has a
lookup system to check for current recalls.
Make sure you’re using the seat correctly. Many cities and states offer inspection locations that will check your
car seat to ensure it is installed and used properly. Safercar.gov has a
locator page to help you find one.
For more information on this topic, check out our post on
Car Seat Safety Rules that Parents Ignore.
Washington D.C. personal injury attorneys
can help if you or your child has been injured in an accident. Call our
office for more information.