McCoy & Hiestand Attorneys at Law
child car seat

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Here’s a startling fact: Many parents are either not following or are unaware of the guidelines for car seat safety, putting their children at risk in the event of a vehicle accident.

That’s according to research published in the August 2017 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicineand based on data from the 2007-2009 National Survey on the Use of Booster Seats from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

According to the study, most parents are not using the proper type of car seat for their child’s height and weight and many children are allowed to sit in the front seat as young as age six.

Why Car Seats Matter in a Vehicle Accident

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the leading cause of death among children older than age three in the United States is car crashes. What’s more, 179,000 children are injured each year in vehicle accidents.

By following proper car seat safety guidelines, those numbers change dramatically. Based on CDC statistics, when used correctly, car seats reduce the risk of death in infant passengers by 71 percent and in toddlers by 54 percent.

Following Car Seat Guidelines

The guidelines for car seats issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics cover rear-facing, forward-facing and booster car seats. The child safety seats should be used as follows:

Rear-facing car seats –For infants and toddlers until the youngster exceeds the maximum weight or height indicated by the car seat’s manufacturer. For some, this may be around two-years-old, but weight and height take precedence over age.

Forward-facing car seats –For older toddlers and preschoolers who outgrew the weight or height requirements of their rear-facing car seat. This type of car seat should be used until the youngster reaches the maximum weight and height indicated by the car seat’s manufacturer.

Booster seats –For school-aged children around 4 feet, 9 inches or between the ages of eight and 12. If the vehicle’s seat belt fits properly on a child, the booster seat is no longer needed.

Convertible car seats –These types of car seats grow with the child and can be switched from rear-facing to forward-facing to booster. Their usage should follow the above guidelines for each type of car seat.

Back seat with lap and shoulder seat belts –For older children until they reach age 13, after which they are old enough to safely sit in the front seat.

Besides the various types of car seats, there are many different styles, with features and accessories to meet your lifestyle and budget. For instance, there are infant travel systems for parents on the go and budget convertible car seats that meet or exceed the mandated safety standards. You can find detailed info hereon the best types of car seats to meet your needs.

With all cars seats, it’s important to note that they should be used in the back seat of the vehicle only. Young children are never safe riding in the front seat, even in a child safety seat.

How to Keep Your Child Safe When Riding in a Vehicle

Besides using the right type of car seat for your child’s size, you also need to make sure the seat is installed properly. If you are installing the car seat yourself, your local police or fire station usually has a certified car seat safety technician on-site. This individual can verify that the seat is installed correctly and can also help you with the installation.

Here are five important things to keep in mind to safely install a car seat:

  1. The safest place to install the car seat is in the middle of the back seat. If this isn’t possible, the back seat behind the passenger seat is the second best option.
  2. You can use either your vehicle’s seat belts or the lower anchors and tethers for children (LATCH) system when installing the car seat. Use whichever method is easier for you.
  3. The top tether of your LATCH system must be used with all forward-facing car seats, even if you’re installing the seat using the vehicle’s seat belts.
  4. Make sure the seat belt is in the lock position if installing a car seat using the vehicle’s seat belts. This is usually done by pulling the belt all the way out and allowing it to retract. Alternatively, if the car seat has built-in lock-offs, they will lock the belt automatically.
  5. When installing a booster seat, be sure the lap belt is low and snug across the child’s upper thighs and the shoulder belt rests away from the neck and across the middle of the child’s chest.

Car Seat Safety Puts You at Ease

Following car seat safety practices not only protects your young one, it also puts your mind at ease in the event of an accident. Accidents happen without warning, their causes numerous. No matter who is at fault, the concern reaches a whole other level when there’s a car seat passenger.

While a personal injury attorney can help victims get through the devastation and fight for their rights to justice, accountability and compensation, the driver who caused the accident can face serious economic losses, as well as emotional trauma.

In the end, no one really wins. That’s why it’s so important for anyone responsible for transporting children in their vehicle to follow the car seat guidelines and practice car seat safety at all times. Children’s lives depend on it.

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