There is no question that parents today have a much better understanding of what it takes to keep their kids safe in the car -- as well as far superior safety equipment -- than previous generations.
Yet despite this comprehensive knowledge and safer car seats, statistics from the safety advocacy group Safe Kids Worldwide reveal that car accidents remain the second leading cause of death among children between the ages of four- and ten-years-old.
In light of this highly unfortunate reality and the fact that statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that the risk of serious and fatal injuries decline by 71 percent for infants and 45 percent for children when they are properly secured in the appropriate car seat, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has decided to designate this week as "Child Passenger Safety Week."
As such, it may now be a good time to stop to reexamine a few basic tips offered by experts concerning how long children must ride in the three principal types of car seats:
- Rear-facing car seats: Experts indicate that children must ride in rear-facing seats up until they are at least one-year-old. From there, they should continue riding in it until such time as they meet the maximum weight or height limit listed by the manufacturer.
- Forward-facing seats: Experts indicate that children must ride in the forward-facing seats, which are equipped with a five-point harness, until such time as they meet the maximum weight or height limit listed by the manufacturer. However, they also remind parents that this type of seat typically lasts until a child reaches the age of seven.
- Booster seats: Experts indicate that children must ride in booster seats until such time as they are at least 4' 9" and weigh between 80 to 100 pounds. Even then, they urge parents to double check that the seat belt fits across the child's upper thighs (not their stomach) and across their shoulder (not their neck or face) without the booster seat.
Here's hoping that parents use this week as a much needed refresher course and continue to abide by the car seat best practices that will keep their children safe.
If you've been seriously injured or lost a loved one in a car accident caused by a reckless driver, remember that an experienced legal professional can examine the circumstances, explain the law and outline your options.
Source: The Chicago Tribune, "Child Passenger Safety Week raises awareness for what most parents get wrong," Robert Duffer, Sept. 16, 2014