Car Seat Safety
#1 Killer of America’s Kids
- Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death and injury to children ages 0-15. Six out of ten children killed in crashes are completely unrestrained.
- There are one-third fewer traffic fatalities to children who ride properly restrained in the back seat.
- Seat belts increase the chance of surviving a crash by nearly 45 percent. Child safety seats, properly installed, reduce the risk of death by 69 percent for infants and 47 percent for toddlers.
- The best way to get children buckled up is to get adults buckled up. A recent study reported in the journal of American Academy of Pediatrics found “driver restraint use was the strongest predictor of child restraint use… a restrained driver was three times more likely to restrain a child.” And according to surveys by NHTSA, when drivers aren’t buckled, the number of children riding with them who are also unrestrained mirrors the adult level, reaching 76 percent.
- In addition, a survey of parent who have infants shows that the lack of adult belt use particularly endangers babies. Parents who don’t buckle up are more likely to improperly place babies in the front seat, leaving them at serious risk of being injured or killed by an air bag.
How to select the right car seat for your child (click on the links below).
Infants until at least 1 year old and at least 20 pounds should be in rear facing car seats.
Kids over 1 year old and between 20-40 pounds can be in forward facing car seats
Kids between 40 and about 60/80 pounds (usually 4 to 8 years old) should be in booster seats.
Kids over 80 pounds and 8 years old can fit correctly in lap/shoulder belts.
A Few Safety Tips
- Always install your car seat according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Never use a car seat that has been in a crash
- Put your child in a car seat every time you travel – even on short trips.
- Cover car seat that will be in the sun to avoid burns.
- Never use a household baby carrier in place of a child restraint seat.
- DO NOT HOLD A CHILD IN YOUR LAP WHILE TRAVELING.
- In an emergency, any kind of restraint is better than no restraint
- Complete and return your new car seat registration card so the manufacturer can contact you in case of a safety recall.
- Set a good example – wear your seat belt!
- THE SAFEST PLACE FOR A CHILD RESTRAINT IS IN THE BACK SEAT.
Common Mistakes Regarding Car Seats
- INFANTS POSITIONED INCORRECTLY
All infants up to 20 pounds – no matter which child restraint used – must face the rear of the car at a 45 degree recline. The position allows the baby’s back to absorb the force in a collision rather than the chest or abdomen.
- HARNESS USED INCORRECTLY
Just as the seat belt keeps the car seat in your car, the harness keeps your child in the car seat. Keep the harness snug for the best protection.
- SEAT BELT POSITIONED INCORRECTLY
Know the proper routing for the seat belt on your car seat. Seat belts placed incorrectly may allow the car seat to fly forward or move out of position, injuring your child.
- TETHER STRAP NOT USED
If your car seat comes with a tether strap, use it. The tether gives the seat necessary stability to stay upright in a crash. For forward facing seats only.
Kids & Air Bags
Air bags are standard equipment in most new cars. Combined with lap/shoulder safety belts, they have a good safety record and saved over 1800 lives nationwide by the end of 1996.
However, an air bag is not a soft, billowy pillow. To do its important job, an air bag comes out of the dash board at up to 200 miles per hour – faster than the blink of an eye. Therefore, infants in rear-facing restraints and unbelted children in the front seat are at risk of serious injury.
This risk can be eliminated. Put children in the back seat and use appropriate restraints for the size of the child.
*For more information view Montana Department of Transportation web site, or call (406) 444-7417