With distracted driving at an all-time high, it is no surprise that with more people on the road, more accidents that will occur. The sad part is that many of those that are fatally injured are children who were not properly buckled.
In fact, in a one year study, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that more than 618,000 children ages 0-12 were occupants of vehicles without the use of a child safety seat or booster seat or a seat belt at least some of the time.
That is a shocking number, but it also shows why motor vehicle injuries are the number one cause of death among children in the United States.
And the worse part, many of these deaths are preventable if parents would take the time to ensure their child is properly buckled.
This is not to say that parents are recklessly endangering their children. Maybe the baby is crying, and mom wants to hold her instead of hearing her wails. This is often a deadly mistake, while it is painful to hear your baby cry, keeping them properly restrained is of utmost importance. You don’t get a do-over when it comes to car wrecks.
Most states have a seat belt law for adults and young adults plus seat belt laws for infants, toddlers, and children.
Besides knowing the correct way to restrain your child based on their age and weight, you want to pick the best car seat that you can.
Car Seat Protips
Entering the world of car seats is overwhelming for any parent who wants to make the best decisions regarding their child’s safety. Here are a few Protips to make the process a little more palatable.
Three types of car seats:
Rear-facing only- this car seat is for babies that weigh 5 to 40 pounds and used in a semi-reclined rear-facing position. This is your typical infant-only car seat.
Forward-facing-only– this car seat is used once your child outgrows the rear-facing seat and is used with a harness and top tether.
Booster seat or Belt Positioning seat– this car seat is used once your kiddo outgrows the car seat with a harness. Some booster seats may have high backs, removable high backs or be backless but all be used with a lap and shoulder belts.
Picking out the right seat:
- Look for the basic parts and extra features you want the seat to have.
- Read the label checking that the weight, height, and age limits match your child’s.
- Although tempting, do not buy used car seats, you do not know its history.
- Register the car seat with the manufacturer so that you may be notified of safety recalls.
Installing your car seat correctly:
- Read and reread the owner’s manual of your choice of seat.
- The backseat buckled with a seatbelt is the safest spot for a child.
- Use the vehicle seat belt or the lower anchors and tethers to attach the car seat to the vehicle.
- Make sure the forward -facing or rear-facing seat is snug and doesn’t wiggle an inch front to back or side to side when pulled at the seat belt path.
Finding the right fit for your child:
- A five-point harness with straps over both shoulders and hips then buckles at the crotch is the best possible protection.
- Adjust your straps as your child grows per the instructions on that seat.
- Be sure to choose the correct harness and belt placement per seat choice.
- Once you have buckled your kiddo pinch the harness at the shoulder if it is snug your fingers will slide off, but if it is loose, you will be able to pinch the webbing between your fingers. The harness should always be snug for the best possible protection.
When to change seats:
- Use your current seat until your child reaches the max weight or height listed on the label.
- Keep them in a rear-facing seat until age 2.
- Change they type over time. Move from rear-facing to forward-facing to booster as the reach each limit.
- Don’t move to a booster too soon. If they will not stay still and climb out of the seat, keep them in a forward-facing with a harness until they are ready.
The ultimate goal is to protect you and your family while on the roads whether it be impeccable driving skills or the proper insurance coverage. Check out the insurance institutes safest vehicles and remember to put all devices down while driving. Don’t drive distracted, the life you save could be your own.