Keeping Your Child Safe While Traveling in a Car
Vehicle safety systems like seatbelts and airbags are strictly designed to protect adults. Children require different considerations when traveling to keep them safe. Ignoring these precautions can lead to serious injury or even death. Auto accidents are actually the leading cause of death in children ages 14 and under, though knowing how to properly restrain your children dramatically increases their chance of survival. Many of the tips in this guide come from a Helpful blog post from Fisher Honda.
- Seatbelts are designed for persons at least four 4 and 9 inches tall who weigh at least 80 to a 100 pounds or more. Any child smaller than this should be using either a safety seat or a booster seat.
- Infants should be seated in a back seat in a rear-facing safety seat until specified by the seat’s manufacturer. For many children, it’s when they reach 2 years old and are around 30 to 40 pounds — then you can then trade up to a forward facing car seat.
- You should never buy a used car seat, because you don’t know its history. Like a bicycle helmet, they should be replaced if they’ve been in an accident, even if there’s no visible wear. Regularly check your child’s car seat to make sure that it’s not wearing, cracking, or showing signs of stress. If it is, replace it.
- Booster seats are meant for children who are too large for car seats, yet not quite big enough to use only the seat belt. A booster seat bumps up the child to the correct height they need to be at so the seat belt properly protects them.
- There’s a simply test you can perform to know if your child is ready to kick the booster seat and use the seat belt as-is. Have them sit flat on the seat and buckle them in. The seat belt should sit on their waist and not above it. The shoulder strap should cross their shoulder blade and collarbone without cutting into their neck. Their legs should also bend at the edge of the seat. If they don’t meet any of these requirements, bring back the booster seat.
Make sure that a child is always using their seat belt correctly, regardless if they’re using a booster seat or not. They should never put the shoulder strap under both arms or behind their back. This dramatically decreases the seatbelt’s ability to save them in the case of an accident or sudden stop.