Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 12 years old. Deaths and injuries can be prevented by the proper use of car seats, booster seats, and seat belts.
Child Passenger Safety Week, from September 16 to 22, is a good opportunity to make sure that your family and the families you know are properly using vehicle restraints. Visit www.safercar.gov/therightseat for guidelines and how-to videos on car seat and seat belt use and installation. You can also find car seat ease-of-use ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
For even more help, find a child car seat inspection station near you. Certified technicians will inspect your child car seat - in most cases, free of charge - and show you how to correctly install and use it.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regulates car seats based on recommendations for different age groups. There are different recommendations for children’s age groups ranging from birth until 12 years old.
Children should be kept in a rear facing car seat for as long as possible, especially when they are one or younger. Only when they have reached the correct height and weight for a front facing car seat, as stated by the manufacturer, should you transfer them to that type of safety seat.
Once your child outgrows the front facing car seat, usually between the ages of 4 to 7, you should move them to a booster seat in the back seat of your car. They should remain in a booster seat until they can fit in a seat belt properly.
According to the NHTSA for a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face, and your child should ride in the back seat because it’s safer there.
Each state has its own laws regarding which car safety seats you must use. Make sure to know your state’s laws before buckling your child in.
Learn more about car safety seat recommendations and see the laws in your state.