From Car and Booster Seats to the Front Seat
As a parent, you probably have struggled to strap a screaming baby into a car seat. Or, you may have realized something is wrong when you turned a corner and the car seat fell over. Car seats are part of the daily reality for parents with young children. While they are proven to save lives and prevent injuries, they also can pose several problems. Using car seats properly is the key to keeping children safe.
Sept. 18-24 is Child Passenger Safety Week, a national initiative to raise awareness about car seat use. The goal is to help parents ensure children have the right car seat for their age and size, making sure the car seat is not expired, and that it’s properly installed in your vehicle. Nationally, more than half of car seats today are being misused, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Safe Kids Cherokee County reports it’s more like 75-80% locally.
Motor vehicle crashes are still the No. 1 cause of injury and death for children between the ages of 0-14, and tweens, ages 8-14, are at the highest risk. This age typically is when children begin riding without a booster or riding in the front seat.
While Georgia law says children under 8 years old don’t have to ride in a car seat, it often is missed that they need to be 4-feet, 9-inches tall to properly fit a seat belt.
“We explain it this way: It’s like a roller-coaster ride. You must be a certain height to be able to ride certain rides. Otherwise, it is not safe. It is really the height at this point, not the age that matters,” said Lisa Grisham, Safe Kids Cherokee County coordinator.
The other issue is children are sitting in the front seat too soon. They should be at least 13 years old before riding in the front, not only due to size but also behavior. Ask yourself … Will my child sit still and in position for the entire ride, wearing the seat belt correctly?
Once they reach the age of 8, there are five questions to answer “yes” before taking a child out of a booster seat:
• Does the shoulder portion of the seat belt cross over the center of the collarbone?
• Does the lap portion of the seat belt cross over the hip bones?
• Can my child bend their knees over the edge of the seat?
• Can my child touch the floorboard with their feet?
• Can my child sit in the proper position the entire ride?
If the answer is “yes” to all of these questions, they can sit in a regular vehicle seat.
Having your child in the proper seat truly can save his or her life and prevent injuries, sometimes permanent injuries. For answers to questions, or to book a free appointment to have your car seat checked by a nationally certified child passenger safety technician, visit www.safekidscherokeecounty.org or call 678-493-4343.
– Safe Kids Cherokee County focuses on programs designed to prevent accidental injury to children ages 19 and under.