Reckless drivers, poor road conditions, inclement weather—some hazards are simply out of your control. Parents who are transporting their children are exponentially more aware of these dangers than the average driver. Fortunately, you can reduce the risk of injuries to your children by using a high-quality child safety seat.
Here are a few statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that all parents should know:
- In a one-year CDC study, more than 618,000 children under the age of 12 were found to have been transported without a child safety seat.
- Correct car seat usage in passenger vehicles reduces the risk of death to infants under the age of 1 by 71% and reduces the risk to toddlers age 1 to 4 by 54%.
- Booster seats are 45% more effective than standard seat belts for reducing the risk of serious injuries to children between 4 and 7.
- Adults who do not wear seat belts are less likely to ensure that their children are securely fastened. Nearly 40% of children riding with unbelted drivers were unrestrained in the CDC study.
- Nearly 46% of car and booster seats are used in a way that limits their effectiveness.
Know How to Use a Child Car Seat Correctly
It’s no secret that child car seats play a major role in reducing the risk of injuries and death in the event of an accident, but their effectiveness is significantly reduced when the seat is not used appropriately. Besides installing the seat correctly, it is important that you use a seat that complements your child’s age, height, and weight.
Below are a few general guidelines, but you should consult your car seat manufacturer’s instructions for more accurate advice:
- From birth to 2 years old, infants and toddlers should be placed in a rear-facing car seat;
- From ages 2 to 5, children should be restrained in a forward-facing car seat;
- From age 5 until a regular seat belt fits properly, your child may use a booster seat; and
- Once a lap belt lies across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest, older children may use a standard seat belt while still riding in the back seat.
Why Young Kinds Should Use a Rear-Facing Child Seat
Far too many parents transition their children into forward-facing child seats too soon. But numerous studies have demonstrated that rear-facing seats are more effective for preventing injuries and fatalities to infants and young toddlers than forward-facing seats.
If, for example, you are involved in a head-on collision, which is the deadliest type of accident, your child can suffer whiplash if he or she is in a forward-facing seat. This is less likely to occur in a backward facing seat. As a result, your child will be less likely to sustain severe neck and spinal injuries.
Generally speaking, most kids can switch to forward-facing seats at around age 2. To ensure your child is as safe as possible, though, you should keep him or her in a backward-facing child safety seat until he or she reaches the size and weight listed in the manufacturer’s guidelines.
You can save money by purchasing a convertible car seat, which can be used in both rear- and forward-facing positions.