It seems the rules regarding car seats change annually or even more often. As science advances, car seat technology, and our understanding of car seat safety provides additional information and tactics to keep our young ones safe while hurling down the road in a steel box within feet of other vehicles. According to the American Society for Pediatric Care of Children, proper car seat usage decreases the risk of child from injury or death by up to 70%.
Medical-auto standards confirm that infants and young toddlers should remain in a rear-facing car seat as long as possible. Only when your toddler breaches the height or weight limits of the seat should you consider switching to a forward-facing car seat. Same goes for the use of a booster seat. It’s recommended that children continue using a forward-facing car seat where possible until they exceed the height and weight limit of the seat. In other words, unlike years past, age is no longer the deciding factor for safety.
Where things have really changed as of late is with booster seats. The Washington Traffic Safety Commission states that all children should continue to use a booster seat in the back seats of a vehicle until they have reached beyond 4 feet 9 inches tall. Only at that point will a typical seat belt conform properly with their young body in a safe manner. And, regardless of height and weight, children should remain in the back seat with a proper lap and shoulder belt until they reach 13 years old.
Here are a few more specific tips to help keep your little ones safe in the car:
Airbags. These safety devices have wildly improved safety for adults. However, airbags can be dangerous and even deadly for children. The devices deploy at speeds around 200 MPH. A young child is not properly situated or built to sustain an impact from an airbag. If you must put a child in the front seat in front of an airbag, airbag on-off switches can be installed by authorized dealers and repair shops with authorization from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Baby in the Middle. If you only have one small child, your best bet is to keep them in the middle, rear seat. While most collisions are frontal/rear impacts, side impacts can be devastating on window seats. Placing your most vulnerable child in the middle seat will help protect the child in those instances.
Installation. Car seats can be confusing to install. Whether you are using a latch system or utilizing the vehicles seat belt to lock the seat in place, improper installation is rampant in our cars. When installing, make sure to follow the guidelines properly. And, to be safe, follow-up with your local police department, hospital, or other facility as many of them will provide car seat installation inspections from trained professionals.
Proper Use is Important. Using a proper car seat is the first step and installation is half the battle. However, proper use can be just as important. A few things to remember:
Protecting your children is your number one priority while driving your vehicle. Safety standards and technology have great decreased the injuries and deaths while on the road. Making sure the protection is used properly makes a world of difference. At Magnuson Lowell PS, we pride ourselves on working with families and children to ensure they are protecting out on the road. Call today for a free consultation.