by Tim O’Hare
Keeping your kids safe while in a vehicle should be one of your top priorities when looking out for your children. Every year, thousands of children are injured or killed in car crashes. Many of these injuries and deaths could be prevented had the child been properly restrained.
Even parents with the best intentions can make mistakes. For that reason, it’s important to frequently review child safety information when it comes to car seats.
Child Car Seat Safety
According to the American Pediatrics Association, here are the recommendations for child passengers in vehicles:
Rear-Facing Car Seats
Infants and toddlers should remain in a rear-facing car seat until they are at least two years old, or have reached the maximum height or weight limit of the car seat (typically around 35 lbs.)
Forward-Facing Car Seats
Once your child has outgrown the rear-facing seat, he/she should ride in a forward-facing seat as long as possible, up to the height or weight limit of your child’s seat. (This weight limit ranges from 40 to 80 lbs, depending on manufacturer.)
After a child has outgrown the forward-facing seat, he/she can ride in a booster seat with the adult lap and shoulder belts until the adult safety belt fits properly. (This is usually when a child has reached 4’9” tall, around 10-12 years of age.) Booster seats with high backs are recommended over booster seats with no backs. A child must have access to both a lap and shoulder belt to safely use a booster seat.
Adult Safety Belts
When a child has outgrown his/her booster seat, they can use the adult lap/shoulder belt. A properly fitting adult seat belt should sit over the top of the thighs/hips and across the center of the shoulder and chest.
A few things to remember about car seats:
- All car seats should be installed according to the manufacturer’s installation instructions for that particular seat. If you are unsure if your child’s car seat is properly installed, stop by your local fire department and request your seat be inspected.
- Car seats should always be installed in the back seat of a vehicle—never in the front seat.
- Children are better protected the longer they can stay in each phase (rear-facing; forward-facing; booster seats). Do not move your child to the next phase until he/she has reached all of the maximum age/weight/height limits. If your child is two years old, but has not yet outgrown the weight/height limit for his or her seat, leave your child in that seat until he/she has reached the limits.
- All children, regardless of height/weight, should be properly restrained in the back seat of a moving vehicle. Front seat airbags pose too much of a risk to young children, so keep your kids safe in the back seat.
- Never use an expired car seat, or a seat that has been involved in a car accident. Both of these factors can impact the structural integrity—and therefore safety—of a child car seat.
- Stay up-to-date with child seat recalls ensuring your child’s safety. You may register your child’s car seat with safercar.gov to be notified if a recall is ever issued for your product.
If you or your child has been injured or if you have lost a loved one as a result of a car accident, contact The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare for a free consultation with a Dallas personal injury attorney.
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