Let’s admit it. Sometimes, child car seats are not always the easiest things to maneuver. However, not only does the law require them up to a certain age and weight, but car and booster seats are your child’s best form of defense against injury or death if he or she is involved in a vehicle accident.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), research on the effectiveness of child safety seats has found them to reduce fatal injury in passenger cars by 71 percent for infants younger than 1 year old and by 54 percent for toddlers 1 to 4 years old. Additional NHTSA research asserts that among children under 5 in passenger vehicles, an estimated 244 lives were saved by using safety restraints in 2008.
It is easy to become confused about the different types of car seats that should be used and what age and weight children must be to use them. Below is a basic overview of car seat information and guidelines:
Rear-Facing Car Seats
A rear facing car seat is used for infants up to 22-35 pounds and is used only in the rear-facing position. These are often referred to as infant carriers because aside from being safest for young babies, they are also convenient as they can additionally be used to carry the baby in when outside of the vehicle.
When using this type of car seat, always make sure that the harness fits snug and that you can only fit one finger width between the harness and your child’s collarbone. This will ensure optimal safety.
Convertible Car Seats
These car seats can be used as both rear-facing and forward-facing. The weight and height limit of these seats may be higher than infant-only, rear-facing car seats. As they are often larger and have a greater weight capacity, your child can use a convertible seat longer than an infant-only seat.
As seat belts are made to fit adults, booster seats raise the child up high enough on the seat so that belts fit securely and properly. Booster seats are typically used when children outgrow a convertible car seat.
Each state has its own laws regarding car seats, but the NHTSA offers these basic recommendations for children of all ages and in all locations:
Birth to 12 months – Children under 1 year should always ride in a rear-facing car seat.
1 to 3 years – Keep children rear-facing as long as possible, as this is the safest position.
4 to 7 years – Keep children in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer.
8 to 12 years – 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 fit across the shoulder and chest, not the neck and snugly across the upper thighs and not the stomach.
The information contained here should be used only as a general outline of child car seat use. Always refer to your state’s specific laws regarding child safety seats as well as to find safety check stations in your area. Check car seat manufacturer’s directions for proper installation, weight and height limits to find the best car seat for your child.
For more information, visit http://www.nhtsa.gov/safety/cps.
Ty Wilson is a personal injury attorney in Georgia and is dedicated to helping injured people and their families. Call his office today at 888-689-5224 to order his free book, 10 Secrets of Georgia Car Wreck Claims. This book is intended to give you and/or your loved one a solid foundation regarding Georgia auto accident claims, how to hire an attorney, and how to deal with the insurance company prior to speaking with an attorney.