By Abbey Wagner, InsWeb, April 2004
While the use of child restraints is up in the U.S. (restraint use has increased from just over 50% to nearly 72% since the mid-1990s for children under 60 pounds), a recent government study (conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA) shows that nearly 73% of child restraints are misused. It is very important to make sure your children are properly secured when driving, so this article will examine ways to make sure your child is as safe as he or she can be.
Infants Under 1 Year Old
Never put an infant in the front seat of an automobile that has a passenger air bag. All children age 12 and under are almost always safer riding in the back seat. Infants under 1 year old and under 20 pounds should ride in an infant only rear-facing safety seat (which offers the best protection for the infant’s neck), while children under 1 year old but over 20 pounds should ride in a rear-facing convertible child safety seat rated for larger infants. Harness straps should be at or below the infant’s shoulders, and should fit snugly, lying in a relatively straight line without any sagging. The harness chest clip should be placed at the infant’s armpit level, keeping the harness straps properly positioned.
Toddlers Over 1 Year Old And Between 20 And 40 Pounds
Children over 1 year old who weigh between 20 and 40 pounds can ride in a forward-facing child safety seat (still in the back seat of your car). Experts agree that children should ride in a safety seat with a harness until they weight at least 40 pounds. The same harness levels and rules as mentioned in the previous paragraph also apply for these safety seats.
Seat belts are made for adults; so the rule of thumb is that if a seat belt does not fit your child correctly (the shoulder belt should lie across the shoulder, not the neck or throat, and the lap belt must be low and flat across the hips, not the stomach ), then he or she should stay in a booster seat until the belt fits. Children over 40 pounds and between the (approximate) ages of 4 and 8 should be in a belt-positioning booster seat (BPB) in the back seat. BPBs must be used with both a shoulder and lap belt, never with a lap belt only. If your automobile does not have shoulder belts in the back seat, check with your automaker to see if they can be added. For some older cars, automakers may offer a retrofit kit for installing shoulder belts. Most newer cars come standard with both lap and shoulder belts in the back seat. Once children can fit properly into a regular seat belt, it is okay to let them graduate from the booster seat. But remember, children under 12 should still ride in the back seat.
More Tips - Do not use a car seat that …
To find out if your child safety seat (or any part of it) has been recalled, you can call the AutoSafety Hotline at 888-DASH-2-DOT.
It is so important to ensure that your child is as safe as possible in your automobile. Don’t be a part of the nearly 73% of people that do not properly use their child safety seats; follow these tips and get more information from the organizations listed below.
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