Do you have kids, or do you sometimes have to drive someone else’s children? It’s time to brush up on your car safety facts. Buckling up children for every drive, no matter how near or far you are driving, is the safest way to transport your precious cargo. According to SafeKids.org, “correctly used child safety seats can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71%,” yet “73% of car seats are not used or installed correctly.”
Children under the age of 13 should always be secured in the rear seats. How they are secured depends on their height and weight, and the car seat’s specifications. Read the labels on your car seat and owner’s manual to know when your child needs to move on to the next seat.
Rear facing car seats are required for infants and small toddlers. A rear facing car seat is necessary to reduce the force on their small necks should you be in a collision or have to brake hard. Most infants and toddlers stay in the rear facing seat until age 2, or until they have out grown the specifications of their seat.
Forward facing car seats are standard for children ages 2+, or who may have outgrown their rear facing seat before age 2. Look to the height and weight restrictions to know when your child is ready to move on to a booster seat.
The booster seat is typically used for a child between the ages of 8-12 years, and who is not yet 4’9” tall. The booster seat should continue to be used until the vehicle’s seat belt correctly fits across their chest.
Have questions about car seats? There are car seat inspection stations across Southwestern Michigan. Find them at safekids.org/car-seat or nhtsa.gov.
The Top 10 Important Things Anyone Who Drives Children Needs to Know
- Children under age 13 should always be secured in rear seats.
- Do not buy used car seats without knowing the seat’s history, it could compromise a child’s safety as the age of the seat, and/or accident history may be unknown.
- Subscribe to car seat recall notices on the National Highway Transporation Safety Administration website http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/subscriptions/index.cfm
- Do not place a rear facing car seat in front seat where there is an air bag. If they must be in front seat, such as a regular cab truck, deactivate the air bag. Check your vehicle’s owner’s manual for instructions on how to deactivate.
- To most securely fasten a baby or child in a car seat, dress them in thinner layers so the belts fit the child, and isn’t too loose because of thick clothing.
- There are car seat options to fit three car seats in a back row – a dilemma that is frustrating for many parents of multiples or young siblings. Do not move your oldest child out of a car seat to make room for the other car seats, it’s just not safe until they are big enough.
- If you are uncertain whether or not you have correctly installed your car seat, there are car seat inspection stations across the country, that will do free inspections to make sure yours is safely secured.
- The LATCH system is on all car seats and passenger vehicles manufactured since September 1, 2002 which allows you to attach a car seat without having to use the car’s seat belt to secure the car seat.
- You should not be able to pinch extra material from the car seat’s harness straps when your child is buckled in. If you can, they are not tight enough.
- Never drive with a child or infant on a lap, outside of their car seat, or in a portable crib.
Helpful Sources for this information and additional resources about car seats: