A Parents Guide on Child Safety Restraints Based on Age

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You'll never know when an accident can happen and given that car crashes occur with a frightening frequency, it is always best to be prepared. Sometimes, no matter how good of a driver you are or how carefully you drive, there are instances when negligent or reckless motorists can cause a crash that can hurt you, or worse, your children in the vehicle.

This is why government agencies as states impose strict policies on child safety restraints. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for children aged 3-14 years old. It is further estimated by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety that every year, more than a thousand children 12-years old and younger are killed in crashes and that more than 100,000 are injured.

However, if parents can properly secure their children in the back seat (i.e. use of booster seats), they can keep their kids safe or at least reduce their risk of serious injury in a car crash. It is actually estimated by the NHTSA that as much as 8,959 lives were saved from 1957-2008 through the use of child safety restraints. Here is a guideline on the proper use of child safety restraints based on a child’s age:

  • 1 year old and younger – It is recommended that infants be placed in rear-facing child seats in the back seat for their best possible protection. Your child must be secured in a rear-facing child seat until they reach 1 or weigh at least 20 pounds.
  • 4 years old to 1 year old – Upon outgrowing the rear-facing seat, children at these ages must be safely restrained in a forward-facing child safety seat. Again, they must be in the back seat and shall use a forward facing child safety seat until the weight and height limit of around 4 years old and 40 pounds.
  • 8 years old to 4 years old – At this age, children should ride in a booster seat which must be placed at the back seat up until the age of 8 or when they are 4’9 inches tall or when the vehicle’s seat belts fit properly.
  • 8 years old and above – At this point, you child may be allowed to sit in the back seat and should use a seatbelt that fits properly. The lap belt should be across your child’s upper thighs and the shoulder belt must fit across his chest.

Remember that when buying any of these child safety seats, check for recalls. Never use a pre-owned child safety seat or a hand me down as these may have been recalled or damaged in a crash. It is advisable that you don’t use child safety seats with missing parts or with cracks in the frame – manufacturers have also recommended not to use their seats if more than 6 years old.

If you have questions about injuries because of child safety seats, or your child was hurt in an accident because of a defective child safety restraint, you may get in touch with a California car accident lawyer.