Child Passenger Safety
Did you know that Automobile Accidents are the number one cause of death in children age 3 to 14? Preventive measures can be taken by parents, caregivers and grandparents who drive children from place to place – read more in this informative article provided by our personal injury law firm – we are committed to public safety.
Between 230,000 and 265,000 children are injured in auto accidents in the United States each year and some of them are killed. Most accidents happen within 25 miles of home and on streets where the speed limit is less than 45 mph. This is an interesting and important point to note and reiterates how essential it is to always use the car seat no matter how far or how fast you are traveling. Most parents use car seats but the problem is that they do not always use them every single time. Also, many people use them incorrectly and so the child seat is not doing its job.
Remember, car seats are the law. In all 50 states, you are required to place children 18 months of age and younger in a car seat. Most states have a law requiring use of a car seat until the age of three. Children who are not in a car seat are up to four times more likely to be seriously injured if they are in an auto accident.
How to choose a car seat
Choosing a car seat can be confusing. The US government has crash safety and fire safety standards, so any car seat sold in the US must meet these requirements. Note that if you purchase a used car seat that is two years old or older, there is a good chance that it did not have to meet the same strict requirements that are in place today.
Until a child is two years old or close to this age, they should be kept in a rear facing car seat. Make sure you choose a car seat designed to hold your child’s weight. When your child gets to be above the weight limit of the rear-facing seat or grows too tall for it, you can then switch to a combination car seat or a booster seat.
It is best to use a car seat with a five point harness, which is believed to be the safest because it restrains the child at the hips and shoulders and so the force of the collision is delivered to the strongest parts of the child’s body. T-shaped and other types of restraints place the force of the collision on your child’s belly and groin—a very vulnerable area.
Using a car seat correctly
More often then not, car seats are placed or installed improperly. So follow these points. First, remember that the safest place for a car seat is the middle of the rear seat, better protected from side impact. Tethering your car seat to an anchor in your car makes them much more secure. Vehicles sold before 1999 don’t have these anchors but you can get your vehicle fitted with an anchor system. Ask an auto dealer for your type of vehicle.
Always completely read the instructions that come with a new car seat. There should also be installation guidelines in the owner’s manual of your vehicle. When your car seat is installed properly, it fits tightly against all sides of your car’s seats with as little give as possible. Push down firmly on the car seat when you place it into your vehicle and always thread your car’s lap and or shoulder belt through the correct slots on the child seat. Make sure there is no slack.
When you are done placing your car seat, try tilting it in various directions. It should not move more than 1 inch in any direction. If it does, then you need to find a tighter fit. Many parents also make the mistake of placing the harness straps to low on a child’s chest. Or they have the harness straps too loose. We realize you want your child to be comfortable but a tight strap across the chest starting at the armpits is extremely important.
If you want to make certain that your car seat is installed correctly and that you are using it in the best, safest way, you can find car seat check ups in your area. Visit websites such as Safe Kids USA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to look for child safety seat inspection locations. Often you will find police stations or automotive dealerships offering these seat inspections several times per year.
Back Seat Riders
Until children are 13 years of age, the best place for them is your backseat. Even once a child is in a booster seat, he or she should still be in the back. On average, children should remain riding in a child safety seat until they are four years old and weigh 40 pounds. Over this age and weight you can begin using a booster seat.
Don’t be Distracted
Remember that distractions like loud music, eating, or using cell phones can put child passengers at risk. Even if you have just a fender bender, a child can be injured much more easily than an adult. So be alert at all times, use the cell phone only after you have reached your destination or have pulled off of the highway, and make children your safety priority on every trip whether it is 1 mile or 500 miles. Stay safe on the roads.