Correctly choosing and using the right restraint is essential to child passenger safety.
In 2021, more than 700 child occupants under age 13 died in U.S. traffic crashes; more than 200 were unrestrained, and many others were inadequately secure at the time of the crash.
We think it is important to know that what is allowed under your state’s child passenger safety laws may differ from what is recommended by child safety experts.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says most kids are not as secure in the car as they should be. Here is what they found:
COMMON CAR SEAT MISTAKES
- The harness straps are not tight enough.
Harness straps should fit snugly to the child’s body and should pass the “pinch test,” meaning you should not be able to pinch any excess strap material.
- The chest clip is too low.
The chest clip should be secured at the child’s armpits to ensure the straps remain in the correct position.
- Moving children to the next step too soon.
Children should stay in their car seats until they outgrow the height or weight limit of the seat before moving to the next step, such as rear-facing to forward-facing.
- Putting kids in the front seat too early.
The force of an airbag may be too intense for children under the age of 13.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Every year, more than a third of all children under 13 killed in a car crash aren’t properly buckled up or in a car seat.
- Using car seats reduces the chance of infant and toddler fatalities by 71% and 54%, respectively.
NEED HELP FINDING THE RIGHT CAR SEAT? CLICK HERE!
Here are some simple steps you can take to make sure your young passengers are properly secured:
- Read the manufacturer’s instructions. Before you even put your child in a car seat or booster, take a close look at the instruction manual. Learn where the restraints should rest and how to loosen and tighten them properly.
- Register your car seat to receive important safety updates. It also gives the manufacturer the ability to contact you about recalls and safety notices.
- Stand firm if your child protests using a car seat, booster seat, or seat belt. Be a good example for your young passengers and always buckle up before getting underway.
- Children under the age of 1 should ALWAYS be in a rear-facing seat in the back seat. They should remain in a rear-facing seat until they reach the top height or weight limits listed on the seat.
- Kids ages 4 to 7 should ride in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until they reach the manufacturer’s allowed height or weight limit. Remember, these limits are unique to the car seat and each seat may have different limits.
- Older children aged 8 to 12 should remain in a booster seat until they are big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a proper seat belt fit, the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt must also lie snugly across the shoulder and chest, not the neck or face.
Nothing is more important than your child’s safety and proper restraint use. Choosing and using the right car seat is essential to child passenger safety.