If you are a parent, you understand that your child’s safety is the most important thing in the world. I was surprised to read about a study that found 95% of new parents use their child’s car seat incorrectly. The study indicated that many parents make mistakes in properly installing the car seat and positioning the child, both critical components in securing a child’s safety.
Although some may say that car seats are overly complex and confusing, Safe Kids Worldwide- a group focused on protecting children- says that a properly used car seat can effectively reduce an infant’s chance of dying in a car accident by 71%.
In 2013, over 8,000 children younger than one year old were hospitalized and 135 children died due to car crashes.
Make full use of your car seat – protect your new child by doing things right!
Facing the car seat the right way is an essential step towards safety. A child of 2 years or younger should be faced backwards in the car seat. Because of children’s heavy heads and weak necks, facing the car seat backwards provides support and comfort to their spinal column in the event of a front-end crash, which is among the most common accidents.
Although the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children face backwards until the age of 2, a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics found that nearly 75% of American parents don’t follow this recommendation. Conversely, Sweden, where parents commonly face their children backwards until the age of 4, has one of the lowest child traffic fatality rate in the world.
Do not buy a car seat from someone you don’t know or without knowing its full crash history.
Once a car seat has been in a crash, it may have lost parts and become less sturdy, even if it looks fine on the outside. Instead, buy a new car seat, as not only will it be in guaranteed stable condition, but it may come with new or improved safety features as well. It is not worth risking the safety of a child just to save a couple of dollars buying a used car seat.
Tips to maximizing safety in a car seat:
- If possible, position the car seat in the middle of the backseat to protect against side collisions
- If possible, do not place the car seat by an airbag – the force of an airbag may cause severe injury or death to the child
- Make sure the car seat cannot move more than 1 inch in any direction once set up
- Any harness or belt that goes over the child should not have any slack
Moving to a booster seat
Once a child has grown enough, he or she is ready to move from a car seat to a booster seat. The Ohio Department of Health estimates that using a booster seat creates a 59% risk reduction of serious injury in a car accident as compared to just a seat belt. It is important to remember, however, that the child should remain in the car seat for as long as possible due to the unparalleled safety that a car seat provides.
Tips to moving to a booster seat:
- Only use a booster seat once the child is at least 4 years old AND weighs a minimum of 40 pounds
- Choose a booster seat that utilizes a car’s lap and shoulder seat belts
- If the shoulder seat belt goes across the child’s neck, the child is too small to be in a booster seat
From booster seat to only seat belt
After the child grows too big for a booster seat, he or she can ride with just a seat belt. However, an online survey by Safe Kids Worldwide finds that most parents don’t know when a child can ride without a booster seat, and concludes that 90% of parents remove their child from a booster seat too soon. Ohio law requires a child to be 4 foot 9 before he or she can ride with just a seat belt.
Safety with just a seat belt:
- A child must be at least 57″ tall and weigh at least 80 pounds to ride with just a seatbelt
- Children ages 8-15 must wear a seatbelt at all times
- The driver and front seat passengers must wear seatbelts at all times
- Although people 16 and older who sit in the back don’t have to wear a seatbelt, it is highly recommended that they do
- Ohio laws requires children under the age of 13 to sit in the backseat
- Seat belts should fit with the shoulder belt laying across the chest, and the lap belt across the thighs
Children are precious but fragile. Parents need to make sure that every protective measure is taken to keep their children safe in automobiles. The requirements and procedures may seem superfluous to some parents, but securing a child’s safety is far more important than saving time by not properly installing a car seat!
As a father of three young children, I understand the importance of properly protecting kids with car seats and booster seats. Max, Gus, and Ruby mean everything to me, and I would never want to risk their health in a car accident.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an automobile accident, call my offices immediately. As your Ohio car accident attorney, I’ll be there for you, and I’ll Make Them Pay!®
Author: Tim Misny | For over four decades, personal injury lawyer Tim Misny has represented the injured victim in in birth injury, medical malpractice, and catastrophic injury/wrongful death cases, serving Cleveland, Akron/Canton, Columbus, Dayton and neighboring communities. You can reach Tim by email at misnylaw.com/ask-tim-a-question/ or call at 877.944.4373