The leading cause of death for children under the age of 13 in America is vehicle related injury. And Americans spend a lot of time driving. According to the US Transportation Federal Highway Administration, the average American parent drives 15,000 miles a year, which puts America at 4.8 billion total miles a year. That is a LOT of driving. We bring our kids with us on many of those 4.8 billion miles. Going to the park, the babysitter, school functions, dance recitals, and family vacations are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the places we travel in our cars with our children. We dutifully strap our kids in the baby car seat, and take off into the world; it’s the American way. There are car seat laws, and we all know that using them is common sense. Are we keeping our kids as safe as we can though? Here are a few tips and reminders for making sure our next generation arrives safely at every destination.
You Already Know Everything about Car Seats, Right? Wrong!
Did you know that there are three different kinds of car seats? Did you know that your child may need a different kind of car seat at every stage of their growth? An infant car seat is different from a toddler car seat. Maybe you do know that there are several types, but not every car seat will fit in every car. The main car seat types are:
- Rear facing car seats
- Forward facing car seats
- Used for older infants and toddlers who have exceeded the weight and height limits for the rear facing newborn car seat.
- Children are properly restrained with a harness and belt system.
- Booster seats
- Used when your child has exceeded the height and weight limits for a regular car seat.
- According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Most children will need a booster seat until they have reached 4 feet 9 inches tall and are between 8 and 12 years old.”
There are many car seats available that are “convertible” from rear facing to front facing, and some that are also “all-in-one” that convert for each stage of your child’s growth from rear, to front, to booster.
Ride in the Rear
Ensure that your children who are under 13 always ride in the back seat. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “15% of passenger vehicle child occupant deaths in 2014 occurred in front seats.” Smaller children may not fit well in a front seat restraint system, as the seat belt may cross their neck causing strangulation. If the child fits below the shoulder restraint, a collision may result in their body being flung forward into the dash or windshield. Airbags may increase the safety of full sized adults, but the force of deployment can be detrimental to children, causing broken noses or concussions. The best place for your kids to ride is in the back seat.
Drivers should ensure that all passengers are wearing their seat belts. Teenagers (and some adults) may balk at a driver’s insistence on wearing seat belts. For everyone’s safety, the driver should hold out and not put the vehicle in motion until all passengers are properly belted in. According to TrafficSafetyMarketing.gov 13,000 lives a year are saved by people using seat belts. Do you need any more proof? Look to the CDC, where they found that “People not wearing a seat belt are 30 times more likely to be ejected from a vehicle during a crash. More than 3 out of 4 people who are ejected during a fatal crash die from their injuries.” Do you want your child ejected from the vehicle in a collision?
Our children are our legacy. We care for them, we raise them, we teach them to be the kind of people we want to see in the world. We invest our time and money in them. The least we can do is to make sure they are safe when we transport them. Car seats are one of the best defenses we have for keeping our children safe. For those who are new parents, or unsure of how to install child safety seats, consult your local police department. Most police departments have community relations officers who specialize in teaching public safety, which includes helping us know how to get the most out of our safety seats. Whether a person agrees or disagrees, the numbers are on the table. Child safety seats save lives.
Top: Image via https://www.flickr.com/photos/intelfreepress/16052141820
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