When you become a parent, a whole new world of worry opens up that you had likely never imagined before. Unfortunately, there are many things you can’t control that could affect your child’s safety. Consequently, when there is a way you can take action to protect your children, it will likely help put you at ease.
One of the ways you can help ensure your children’s safety when on the road is by learning about car seat safety and double-checking the car seats in your vehicle. Shocking studies have revealed that from 75 to 90 percent of all car seats in the United States are not used or installed properly.
The costs of these errors are horrific. According to one study, children under the age of five who are not restrained in a car seat properly are over 31 times more likely to die in a motor vehicle accident than their properly secured counterparts.
Negligent drivers cause auto accidents every day in San Diego. Make sure you understand how best to protect your children in the event of a crash.
Are you using the right type of car seat?
In California, children under eight years of age must travel in either a car seat or a booster seat, depending on which is appropriate for their age, height and weight. If a child is eight years of age or is 4’9″ tall, he or she can then use a safety belt in the back seat of the vehicle.
Until a child is two years of age, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that he or she should ride in a rear-facing car seat. Both infant and convertible car seats may be placed in a rear-facing position, which is considered the safest for young children.
When a child reaches the age of two, he or she can ride in a forward-facing car seat. The forward-facing car seat will still allow you to use a five-point restraint. The instructions for convertible and forward-facing car seats will provide height and weight restrictions, which will help you know when it is best to switch to a booster seat.
A booster seat allows your child to use the safety belt in the back seat of the car. Without a booster seat, the safety belt will not fit your child properly when he or she is young. The booster seat can help ensure the lap belt fits over your child’s hips and the chest belt is properly positioned.
Finally, all young children should sit in the back seat until they are at least 13 years of age. While it may make you feel like a chauffeur, it is the safest bet for your kids.
Is your car seat installed properly?
As we mentioned, a surprisingly high number of car seats are not installed properly. These mistakes can have disastrous consequences for your little one.
According to a study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, you should ask yourself these questions to avoid some of the most common errors:
- Do you have the right angle on your rear-facing car seat?
- Is your car seat secured tightly enough?
- Are you using the tether anchor?
In addition to reading the instruction manual when installing the car seat, it is a good idea to get it checked out by an expert. In many areas, you can take your car with an installed car seat to the police department or fire department to have an expert determine whether it is properly installed.
So, why run the risk? Take the time to make sure you are using the appropriate car seat and have the installation checked by an expert. You may not be able to control other drivers on the road, but you can make sure your children are as safe as possible in your car.