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Child Passenger Safety

|Parents And Guardians - Are You Aware Articles
Niki Smidt

March 1, 2004

Parents and caregivers play a big part in making sure children are securely restrained when traveling by car. Here are some tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to help keep your children safe.

Many people believe that children who have outgrown child safety seats should use safety belts. This is not true. Safety belts, which are designed for adults, won’t fully restrain many children in a crash. Those children need a booster seat, which raises the child up so the safety belt fits - and protects - them.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends booster seats for children from about age 4 and 40 pounds to at least age 8, unless the child is 4-feet-9-inches tall.

A booster seat raises a child up so that the safety belt fits properly. Moving a child to a safety belt too early greatly increases the risk of injury.

The back seat is the safest place for children. According to the NHTSA, more than 1,700 children in crashes have been saved since 1996 solely because they were sitting in the rear seat, which also protects them from front air bags that deploy in a crash.

The NHTSA recommends the following guidelines to show which restraint should be used for each stage of a child’s development. The four steps are:

  • Step 1: Rear-facing infant seats in the back seat from birth to at least 1 year old and at least 20 pounds.
  • Step 2: Forward-facing toddler seats in the back seat from age 1 to about age 4 and 20 to 40 pounds.
  • Step 3: Booster seats in the back seat from about age 4 and 40 pounds to at least 8, unless 4’9”.
  • Step 4: Safety belts at age 8 or older or taller that 4’9”. All children 12 and under should ride in the back seat.

Help keep your children safe! Make sure your children are properly restrained when in your care or in the care of a friend, relative or caregiver.

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