Child Passenger Safety Week
Unfortunately the leading cause of death in children is traffic crashes, and according to MODOT, “73% of all child restraints are not used correctly”. Fortunately, there is much that parents and grandparents can do to decrease the risk for your child in a crash by making sure your child is in the right seat for their size and using it properly. The following list of tips is to help you protect your most beloved asset, your children.
- Which Seat is right for your child? Missouri state law will allow children to ride in a booster seat once they reach 40 pounds and 4 years of age. However, if your child still fits safely in his or her forward-facing car seat based on the manufacturer’s guidelines, then it is safer for them to ride in it than the booster seat. Some forward-facing car seats are designed for children up to 7 years old. The same general rule applies to rear-facing car seats which can fit children as old as 3.
- When can a child ride with a seat belt alone? Missouri law requires kids to ride with a car seat until they are 8 years, 80 pounds, or 4’9” tall. While parents should never let a child who falls under these requirements go without a safety seat, there are some children who exceed one or more of these requirements who need them. The question parents should ask themselves before axing the booster seat is, “does the seat belt fit without it?” These guidelines from SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A. can help you decide if your child is safe without the booster seat.
Can your child sit all the way back against the auto seat?
Do your child’s knees bend with ease at the edge of the seat without slouching?
Does the lap belt fit snugly across the top of the thighs, not up on the tummy?
Does the shoulder belt come across the center of the shoulder and chest?
Can your child sit like this for the whole trip?
If you answer “no” to any of these questions, or your child puts the shoulder belt under the arm or behind the back, a booster seat is needed for a good seat belt fit.
- How can you tell if your child’s seat is actually safe? First, make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing a car seat. Make sure to show other care givers how to properly install the seat. Second, register your seat with its manufacturer. If your seat is registered the manufacturer will contact you if your seat is recalled. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recalls seats for defects and failures to meet standards, but parents often miss recalls if their seat is not registered.
- For your child’s safety, buy the seat new or from a close friend. If buying a used seat, only get it from someone who registered and maintained the seat. In the age of Craig’s List, Facebook Marketplace, and other resale apps it is easy to find used seats, but since your child’s safety is of the upmost importance, this is not the time to bargain hunt. It is difficult to tell if the seat meets current safety standards, whether it was a recall seat or if it’s in suitable condition. Also, it likely won’t have the original safety instructions and registration form.
- But Mom, “none of my friends ride in booster seats”. Parents want their kids to be safe and feel confident. Remind your kid that riding in the booster seat is safer, more comfortable, and if they are not in it mom or dad will get a ticket. Children’s safety is more important than their “cool” factor. Kids grow at different rates, so some children will have to ride in a booster seat longer than their peers.