The importance of car seats and booster seats for children
Child Passenger Safety Week is September 14-20 and it’s the perfect time to bring awareness to the importance of car and booster seats. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA), car crashes are the leading cause of death for children 1 to 13 years old. The best way to protect your child in a vehicle is by using a properly installed car seat that is appropriate for the child’s age, height and weight. Often times, fatalities and serious injuries can be prevented by the proper use of car and booster seats, as well as set belts.
Safe Kids Worldwide estimates that children ages 2 to 5 who use seat belts prematurely are four times more likely to suffer a serious head injury in a crash than those in child safety seats or booster seats. Safe Kids also reported that of those children ages 12 and under who died in vehicle crashes in 2011, 33% were unrestrained. That is a tragic statistic that is preventable.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that in 2012, more than 1,100 children ages 14 years and younger died in motor vehicle crashes and more than 176,000 were injured. The CDC found that in 2011, restraint use saved the lives of 263 children ages 4 years and younger. The CDC estimates that proper car seats can reduce the risk of death in car crashes by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers age 1 to 4, and that booster seats reduce the risk of serious injury by 45% for children ages 4 to 8 years.
The Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys want parents to know the stages for appropriate car seats. In addition to these appropriate age/weight recommendations, all children aged 12 and under should ride in the back seat.
Birth to 2 – Rear-facing car seat. All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car seat buckled in the back seat until they are at least 2 years of age or when they reach the upper weight or height limits of their particular sat. Check the manufacturer information for limits.
2 to 5 – Forward-facing car seat. When a child outgrows their rear-facing weight or height limit, they should be buckled in the back seat in a front-facing car seat. They should remain in the front-facing car seat until at least the age of 5 or when they reach the weight and height limits of the seat.
Younger school-aged children – Booster seats. All children whose weight or height is above the forward-facing limit for their car seat should use a belt-positioning booster seat until they achieve the height and weight that the vehicle seat fits properly. The CDC recommends a height of 57 inches tall for proper seat belt fit. Again, children in booster seats and in seat belts should ride in the back seat.
The NHTSA recommends that for safety, children 4 to 7 years old should be in booster seats. The NHTSA also recommends that parents refer to the specific car seat manufacturer’s instructions on weight and height limits. Car seats on the market today can exhibit a wide variation in height and weight limits. If children over the age of 7 are still within the weight and height limits of their booster seat, they should be kept in that type of seat.
The 2013 NHTSA National Survey of the Use of Booster Seats found that 40% of children newborn to 12 years old who were 37 to 53 inches tall were either unrestrained or prematurely graduated to seat belts. 84% of children up to 12 who were 54 to 56 inches tall were either unrestrained or prematurely graduated to seat belts.
Regardless of the size or type of vehicle, the age of the child, or the length of the trip, children should always be properly restrained. When properly installed and used, car seats and booster seats can save lives. Remember, children learn by example, so always buckle up when driving, no matter how short the distance.
The personal injury lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys have been fighting for clients for over five decades. They are experts in car, truck, bus and pedestrian accidents, representing clients throughout Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey. If you need a lawyer to fight for you, you need Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys. For more information, visit www.munley.com.
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