On average, Americans spend 46 minutes per day behind the wheel. For busy families that time may be even longer with carpooling the kids and getting loved ones to appointments.
Many of us are buckling up several times per day. But did you know that when it comes to properly installing and using car seats and seatbelts for the little ones, more than half (59%) of parents actually get it wrong?
Use Child Passenger Safety Week, September 18-24, as a chance to sharpen your car seat savvy.
Car Crash Course
The National Safety Council has reported that through August 2016, 19,100 people were killed and 2.2 million seriously injured on U.S. roads. The sad result is that motor vehicle deaths are up 9% the first six months of 2016 compared to 2015 and up 18% compared to 2014.
You probably already know that car seats and seatbelts save lives. That’s why all 50 states have adopted mandatory laws requiring children to be properly buckled. Unfortunately it is estimated that 112,000 children under the age of 13 were injured in car accidents in 2014 (the year this study was conducted).
Car Seats Save Lives
The good news is that child safety seats reduce the risk of fatal injury in passenger cars by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers. The federal government sets safety standards for these seats and independent organizations put these seats through rigorous additional crash tests to ensure that the seats do the job when most needed–in the event of impact.
In general, you want to select a car seat based not only on your child’s age but also his or her height and weight. Kids grow at different rates, so you want to be sure they are “right-sized” for their car seat. Be sure it fits your vehicle and refer to the car’s owner’s manual on how to install the car seat using the seat belt or lower anchors and a tether. Young ones ride in the back, the front seat is only for children ages 12 and over.
Here’s more on car seats by ages and stages:
Rear-Facing Car Seat
Babies under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat, either an infant only seat called a bucket, or a convertible or all-in-one car seat that typically has a higher height and weight limit for the rear-facing position. Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible, typically up to ages 1 to about 3. And of course, keep the rear-facing seats in the back seat and never in front of an airbag
Forward-Facing Car Seat
These seats are appropriate for toddlers to school age children. Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by the seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it’s OK to travel in a booster seat. The ages for this can vary based on your child’s growth and it will roughly be in the early school years.
Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. When your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat, it is then OK to transition to a booster seat.
One of the most important safety measures you can take as a parent is to not rush the move to a seat belt with no booster seat. It is especially dangerous to the child when the seatbelt does not fit properly; the lap belt should never go across the stomach or the shoulder strap across the face or neck. A proper fit has a lap belt snug across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt across the shoulder.
The safest place for children younger than 13 is the back seat.
Of course always remember to click it every time you get in the car. And use Child Passenger Safety Week as a great time for a safety check for very precious travel companions.