Despite the recent advances in car safety technology, traffic crashes continue to claim millions of lives each year. According to the CDC and NHTSA, children are especially susceptible to death and severe injuries in a car accident. Recent CDC statistics suggest roughly 600 children in the US die every year in motor vehicle crashes. NHTSA analysts also claim car crashes are the top cause of fatalities amongst children under 13.
The good news is there’s an easy way to “boost” child safety: buy a car seat. In fact, the CDC estimates parents will cut the chance of accident fatalities by 80 percent with a properly-installed car seat. NHTSA data also suggests 325 children under five are saved per year thanks to a car seat.
However, car seats won’t make a massive difference if they’re not properly installed. Parents and guardians must understand which car seat is suitable for their child and how to secure it in their vehicle.
What Are The Official Recommendations For Child Passenger Safety?
While the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) introduced updates to its car seat guidance in 2018, not much has changed in the AAP’s official stance. Indeed, according to the AAP, it only got rid of its recommendation to transition children over two years old to forward-facing restraints.
Organizations like the AAP want to stress the importance of using a child’s height and weight rather than their age. Health authorities also recommend parents research their car seat manufacturer’s official instructions rather than following general recommendations.
That being said, the AAP’s general schema for car seat safety goes as follows:
- Rear-facing restraints for infants and toddlers, until they exceed the manufacturer’s height & weight recommendations (usually 2 – 4 years old).
- Use forward-facing restraints once children outgrow rear-facing seats.
- When children reach over 60 pounds, transition to a booster seat.
- Transition to rear seatbelt when children reach 4’ 9’’ or are at least eight years old.
- Regardless of weight or height, keep all children in the back seat until 13-years-old.
Are There Laws Governing Child Passenger Safety?
Although the AAP’s guidance on car seat safety is the “gold standard,” it’s not the law of the land. Currently, each US state has slightly different restrictions on what’s legal regarding car seats.
However, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) claims every US state has child safety seat policies. All US territories organize their laws into rear-facing, forward-facing, and booster seats.
While each state has unique age requirements for child car seats, every territory requires parents to switch from forward-facing restraints to booster seats when a child reaches a certain height, weight, or age. The GHSA also claims at least 23 states forbid parents from switching children under two years old out of rear-facing restraints.
Although most states follow the AAP’s model, parents need to research their state’s laws to ensure they follow the latest local regulations.
How Do Parents Ensure A Child Seat Is Installed Correctly?
Many Americans don’t know how to install a car seat. Indeed, according to the NHTSA, 59 percent of child safety seats on US roads aren’t put in correctly.
In response to these statistics, traffic safety authorities offer free car safety seat demonstrations and inspections. The easiest way parents could find a child passenger safety (CPS) technician is to visit the NHTSA’s online directory. Here, visitors could enter their city’s zip code and contact a local CPS expert.
The website HealthyChildren.org also has an exhaustive AAP-approved guide to properly installing each car seat. For more information, be sure to visit this official link.
Booster Seats “Boost” Child Car Safety!
The stats don’t lie: car seats save hundreds of children’s lives each year. Not only are car seats an essential preventative strategy, they’re legally required in every US territory. Parents who travel with kiddos need to review their state’s requirements and their car seat manufacturer’s recommendations. People who still have questions about installing car seats should speak with a CPS expert ASAP.