Children in motor vehicles are prone to significantly increased injury because of their mobility. Child safety seats reduce the risk of death by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers ages 1-4 years old. Even up to 8 years old, booster seats can reduce the risk of serious injury by 45%. Know the guidelines to make sure your child is properly placed in his or her car seat every time you get in the car, and show your children by example how important it is to wear a seat belt.
Up to 2 years old (under 35 pounds), children should be in a rear-facing car seat. From 2-5 years old (20-40 pounds), children should ride in a forward-facing car seat, and in the back seat of the vehicle. Children should be in a car seat or belt-positioning Booster Seat until they have reached 4’9” in height and are between 8-12 years of age. The minimum requirements for car seats and booster seats are developed more around size than age. It is much more important for a child to meet the minimum height and weight requirement before moving them into the next safety seat than it is the age requirement. Continue to have children under age 12 ride in the back seat because it is safer and away from dangerous airbags.
It is critical to ensure that child safety seat does not become airborne in the event of an accident. All car seats can be secured into a vehicle using the seat belt. To properly secure a seat using only the seat belt, run the belt though the specified area of the car seat and buckle it into the car. It is also imperative to “lock” the seat belt so there is no free-play. This is done after clicking the metal fitting into the buckle, pulling the belt all the way out until you hear a ratcheting sound, and then allowing the seat belt to fully retract until it is firmly anchored. However, nearly all vehicles newer than 2002 come equipped with the L.A.T.C.H. (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system and are used instead of, or in addition to, the seat belt to secure the car seat to the vehicle seat. No matter which method is used, be sure the car seat has no more than one inch of movement when completely strapped down. Please note that this firm pressure may damage or indent your vehicle seats, but is worth it in the long run.
When purchasing child car seats, the best seat is the one that fits your child’s size and is used properly every time you drive. Proper installation is critical in making the seat effective. Also beware of purchasing older, used car seats, as they may not have the safety features to secure the seat in your car that are found in the newer car seats. Once a car seat has been involved in an accident, it is no longer effective and must be replaced. Visit NHSTA to check if a seat fits your vehicle and for tips on purchasing a car seat. Or, stop by Honest Accurate Auto Service (Tutt Blvd. only) and we will check the installation of your car seat for you. We want you and your child to be as safe as possible in your vehicle!