Keeping children safe in cars is a top priority because as we all know, babies are truly a gift! Apparently, they are a gift that you cannot return, unless you have kept the receipt and haven’t removed the tags. When I had my baby, the hospital personnel would not allow me to take my baby home, unless I had an appropriate car seat. They informed me that they would actually “give” me a car seat if I didn’t have one. Safety first…or perhaps they just didn’t want me to leave my screaming baby there.
So what are the current laws regarding car seats for children and child car safety? There are apparently four (4) phases, according to their age and weight, and sometimes their height.
According to the Child Safety National Best Practice Recommendations:
Phase 1 – REAR FACING SEATS:
Infants: Birth – 35+ pounds and 2+ years old. Rear-facing infant or rear-facing convertible safety seat for as long as possible, up to the rear-facing height or weight limit of the seat. Properly install according to instructions in owner’s manual, rear-facing in the back seat.
Phase 2 – FORWARD FACING SEATS:
When children outgrow the rear-facing safety seat (minimum 2+ years), they should ride in a forward-facing safety seat for as long as possible, up to the upper height or weight limit (40 – 80+ pounds) of the harnesses. Usually 4+ years old. Properly installed forward-facing in the back seat. NEVER turn forward-facing before child meets all: AGE/HEIGHT/WEIGHT requirements set by the safety seat manufacturer for forward-facing seats.
Phase 3 – BOOSTER SEATS:
After age 4, 40+ pounds and behavior maturity*, children can ride in a booster seat with the adult lap and shoulder belt, until the adult safety belt will fit them properly (usually when the child is 10 – 12 years old). You MUST have a lap/shoulder belt to use a booster seat.
*Behavior maturity required according to booster seat owner’s manual
Phase 4 – ADULT SAFETY BELT:
Once children outgrow their booster seat (usually at 10 – 12 years old) they can use the adult lap/shoulder safety belt, if it fits them properly.
The lap portion should fit low over the hips/tops of thighs and the shoulder belt crosses the center of the shoulder and center of the chest.
Although these are the laws (in most states…some state laws may slightly vary), the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) advises that you do not allow a child to ride in the front seat of the car until 15 years of age, since their bones are still forming and it is clearly safer to keep them in the back seat, secured, for as long as possible. My daughter rode in the back seat of the car until she was 17!! (not for safety sake…she just didn’t want to be seen with me).
If you have a child or care for someone else’s child(ren), there is some excellent information at CPSBoard.org (National Child Passenger Safety Board) and at http://www.safercar.gov/parents.
Until next week…keep that precious gift as safe as possible!
Writer / Comedienne / Artist
Keeping Children Safe in Cars – Comedy Defensive Driving