Every 32 seconds, a child under the age of 13 was involved in a car crash in 2018. Many times, injuries and deaths can be prevented by proper car seat safety, boosters and seatbelts. Car accidents are the leading cause of preventable deaths and injuries to children in the United States, according to Safe Kids.
Car Seat Safety Facts
As a parent or caregiver, one of the most important jobs you have is to keep your child safe. Learning the proper use of safety seats and seatbelts can not only help prevent your child from getting injured in an accident; these safety measures could save your child’s life.
According to Safe Kids, correctly used child safety seats can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71 percent, but more than half of car seats are not used or installed correctly.
Selecting the Right Car Seat Safety Record
With many types of safety seats available, choosing a car seat for your child can be overwhelming. There’s help! The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers a comprehensive guide in English and Spanish with information about finding the right car seat, installing it correctly and other tips.
The guide includes a searchable list by area of places offering car seat installation inspections, as well as recommendations for the correct seat for your child’s age and size, as well as for your vehicle. It also allows adults to register car and booster seats to receive up-to-date information about any recalls and defective parts.
Tips on Child Passengers’ Car Seat Safety
The National Safety Council offers these basic tips for keeping children safe.
- If you are pregnant, schedule a car seat installation with a certified child passenger safety technician before the child is born.
- Children should ride in the back seat, at least through age 12.
- If your kids complain about wearing seatbelts, do not negotiate. Do not drive off until they buckle up.
- Always be consistent and wear your seatbelt; driver safety belt use strongly influences whether your child will buckle up.
- The life of a car seat ranges from six to 10 years. Be sure to find the expiration date set by the manufacturer.
- Airbags can save the lives of older children and adults, but they can be fatal for young children when not seated correctly, particularly in the front seat; never place a rear-facing car seat in a front seat near an airbag.
- Always read instructions provided by the vehicle and car seat manufacturers for properly securing children.
Seatbelts or safety belts are restraints that are meant to supply protection in case of a crash. By using them properly, crash deaths and injuries can be significantly reduced. Except for New Hampshire, all states and the District of Columbia require adult front-seat occupants to use seatbelts. Florida law requires the use of safety belts for all drivers and passengers in all motorized vehicles.
Thirty-four states and the District of Columbia have primary enforcement. Primary enforcement laws allow a police officer to stop and cite a motorist solely for not using a seatbelt. In states with secondary enforcement, police can only enforce the law if the motorist has been pulled over for another violation first.
Safety Belt Fit Test
According to Safe Kids, children should stay in a booster seat until between the ages of 8 and 12, depending on the size of the child. Here is a recommended Safety Belt Fit Test (watch video) to determine if a child is ready for a safety belt without a booster seat:
- Check knees and feet. Your child’s knees should bend at the edge of the seat when their back and bottom are against the vehicle seat back. Feet should touch the floor for comfort and stability.
- Check the vehicle lap belt. It must fit snugly across the hips or upper thighs.
- Check the shoulder belt. The shoulder belt must fit across the shoulder and chest, not across the face or neck.
- Remember, just because the seatbelt fits your child in one car does not mean the seatbelt will fit in all cars. Do the Seatbelt Fit Test in every car before permanently moving from the booster seat to just a seatbelt.
Car Seat Safety Attorneys
As careful and as safe as you may be with your driving, and with the use of good car seat safety, auto accidents still happen. Other drivers speeding, running red lights, driving drunk and the driving the wrong way have caused tragic accidents that have altered the lives of many innocent families.
The attorneys at Goldstein, Buckley, Cechman, Rice and Purtz have nearly 60 years of experience with personal injury cases. We have six offices in Southwest Florida in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Naples, Lehigh Acres and Port Charlotte. Contact us today to set up an appointment for a free consultation.