car seat safetyDid you know that three out of every four car seats are not used correctly? Car seat safety is so important but often it is not implemented. Vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of death for children between the ages of 1 and 13 years old. Between 1975 and 2010, car seats saved the lives of an estimated 9,600 children age four and younger (source: safercar.gov).

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has teamed up with SafeCar.gov to create important and beneficial car seat safety information. Here’s a look at their recommendations:

  • Choose a car seat based on your child’s size and age as well as one that will fit in your vehicle for you to use every time.
  • Read the vehicle owner’s manual to get a full understanding on how to install a car seat properly.
  • For the maximum safety, keep your child in the seat for as long as he or she is within the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements.
  • Children ages 12 and under should always sit in the back seat of a vehicle.

The following is the guide the NHTSA suggests following for the maximum safety of a child traveling in a vehicle:

Birth-12 months

Your child under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. There are different types of rear-facing car seats: Infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and 3-in-1 car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time.

1-3 years

Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. It’s the best way to keep him or her safe. Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.

4-7 years

Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it’s time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.

 8-12 years

Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face. Remember: your child should still ride in the back seat because it’s safer there.

Choosing the right car seat and installing it properly are both equally important. Take the time to educate yourself on the latest regulations regarding child car seat safety to keep your loved ones safe.