I just had a discussion last night about safe seating with the 8-year-old son of a friend of mine who wanted to be moved up to the front seat. (Sorry Hayden, NHTSA recommends children ride in the back seat at least through age 12!) Did you know that motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13 in the USA? In 2013, a child under 13 was involved in a crash every 33 seconds. Sadly, many of these deaths and injuries could be prevented by proper use of car seats, boosters, and seat belts.
AskPatty joins with NHTSA and other child safety organizations like SafeKids.org to observe Child Passenger Safety Week from September 13-19, 2015, and National Seat Check Saturday on September 19, 2015. One of the goals of Child Passenger Safety Week is to encourage parents and caregivers to visit SaferCar.gov/TheRightSeat to determine if their child is in the right seat for his or her age and size and to locate a car seat inspection event in their area. Additionally, parents and caregivers are urged to register their child’s car seat with the manufacturer so as to be informed in the event of a recall.
The information here can help you choose the right seat for your child. Remember, the best car seat is the one that fits your child properly, is easy to use, fits in your vehicle correctly, and that you’ll use every time.
Make sure your car seat fits your child: As children grow, how they sit in your car will change. Make sure your car seat is designed to fit your child’s current size and age and allows some room for growth.
Not all car seats fit in all vehicles, so test the car seat you plan to buy to make sure it fits well in your vehicle. Most retail outlets have unboxed samples on their shelves that you can test before making a purchase.
Before putting your child in a car seat, read the manufacturer’s instructions so you know how your car seat works and how to install it.
All-in-One car seats:
All-in-One car seats offer you the advantage of using the same seat for the following positions: rear-facing, forward-facing with harness, then booster. These seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time, which physicians and safety experts strongly recommend.
Rear-facing car seat:
Your child under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat in theback seat.
There are different types of rear-facing car seats: Infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and 3-in-1 car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time.
Children ages 1-3 should be kept rear-facing as long as possible, as long as they fit the car seat. It’s the best way to keep him or her safe. Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer.
A rear-facing car seat is the best seat for your young child to use. It has a harness and in a crash, cradles and moves with your child to reduce the stress to the child’s fragile neck and spinal cord.
Forward-facing car seat:
Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness in the back seat. A forward-facing car seat has a harness and tether that limits your child’s forward movement during a crash.
Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it’s time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.
A booster seat positions the seat belt so that it fits properly over the stronger parts of your child’s body. Many kids appreciate riding in a booster seat because it also elevates them slightly so they can better see out the rear window.
Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly.
For a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face, and be snug aenough to restrain the child safely in a crash.
Remember: your child should still ride in the back seat because it’s safer there, at least through age 12. Also, it should go without saying that it is NEVER safe to allow a child to ride unbuckled.
Be certain you've installed your car seat correctly by having it checked at an inspection station or by a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician. Bring the car seat instructions AND the vehicle owner’s manual with you to a seat check appointment! During Child Passenger Safety Week, there will be events across the country where Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians will inspect car seats and show parents and caregivers how to correctly install and use them. In most cases, this service is free of charge. Locate a car seat check event here.
Please join @NHTSAgov for a Child Passenger Safety Twitter Chat on Wednesday, September 16, at 2 p.m. ET (5 p.m. Pacific)
Go mobile with NHTSA’s SaferCar App to Help Keep Your Family Safe!
Check out NHTSA's SaferCar app for your mobile device, which gives you immediate access to key safety information to help you make informed decisions, with features including:
• Help with car seats: Quickly get driving directions to the nearest child-seat inspection station and get assistance to properly install car seats and boosters.
• Information for buying a car: Access NHTSA's 5-Star Safety Ratings and compare different makes and models before you decide to buy.
• Stay connected: Be notified of safety issues for your vehicles. Use the app to register a vehicle and NHTSA will notify you if they find it has a safety issue. The SaferCar app also makes it simple to submit complaints to NHTSA regarding possible safety problems with your car.
• Safety headlines and alerts: Receive important news and information from NHTSA, as well as recall notices and push notices on your vehicles.