When you’re a parent, safely driving your infant or toddler around from place to place becomes second nature. You know exactly how the car seat straps fasten, its proper position and how to tightly buckle your child up so he or she is safe in the event of a crash.
But having the right type of car seat for your child based on age, weight and height is just as important as ensuring that it’s safely secure to the backseat every time you back out of your driveway.
And since September 17-23 is Child Passenger Safety Week, as designated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it’s the perfect opportunity to review car seat guidelines to keep your precious cargo safe and secure when hitting the open road.
Finding the Perfect Car Seat
Selecting the right car seat can seem like a daunting task for many parents. With so many brands and styles to choose from, how do you know you’re getting a quality car seat without sacrificing safety?
Plain and simple, every car seat manufacturer – like Graco, Evenflo, and Baby Trend – self-certifies that its products meet certain laws and regulations before hitting store shelves. So, it’s not a matter of which brand is the safest. Rather, the right type of car seat ultimately comes down to your child’s age, height and weight.
Rear vs. Front-facing
For years, the widely accepted notion was that children should ride in a rear-facing car seat until their second birthday or they weighed 20 or more pounds, whichever came first.
However, in recent years, the American Academy of Pediatrics has advocated against that standard, arguing that children should stay in the rear-facing position until they exceed their seat’s 40 or 45-pound weight limit, regardless of age. This is because toddlers are more susceptible to certain head and neck injuries that can occur in a crash.
So, as a rule of thumb, keep your child in a rear-facing seat until he or she no longer fits. And once they outgrow their rear-facing seat, they’ll be ready for a front-facing one for the next few years.
The Booster Seat
A traditional booster seat, which is meant to give your child a “boost” so your vehicle’s lap and shoulder belts fit snuggly across their waist and torso, is recommended until he or she child is 12-years-old or is taller than 57 inches – the universal height when a standard seatbelt should fit properly.
But the real issue with child passenger safety occurs when parents prematurely let their child ride in the front seat simply because they feel that he or she is heavy enough.
There’s a reason, though, that the warning label on your car specifically states that children under the age of 13 should always ride in the backseat. And it stems from the fact that the risk of injury from an airbag or a seatbelt malfunction due to a child’s small body is magnified is he or she is riding in the front before hitting puberty.
If you’ve bought the perfect car seat for your child that meets every age, weight and height regulation but aren’t sure how to properly install it, you’re not alone. Even if the seat looks safely secured in your car and you’ve used the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tether for Children) system, it’s wise to have your work checked by an expert since you can never be too cautious when it comes to your child’s safety.
Most municipal police stations will show you how to properly install a car or booster seat, free of charge if you call to schedule an appointment.
For more driving tips, or to ensure that your vehicle passes state inspection before you and your little ones hit the road, give Andy’s Auto Service in Bridgeville a call, or visit the website.