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Car Seat Safety

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), car crashes are the leading killer of children between the ages of 1-13 years.

So many of these deaths could be prevented by using the right seat for the age of your child, correctly.

7 out of 10 child safety seats are not buckled in the car correctly (seatcheck.org).

There are so many child car safety seats available on the market, how is a parent to know which one(s) to use?  What is the right way to install a car safety seat?

Below, we have compiled articles, tips, and charts (only from trusted organizations) to help you learn to make your car TotSafe.

Please visit seatcheck.org to find certified technicians in your area, who can help you ensure your child safety seat is installed and being used correctly.


Parents Central (safercar.gov) has created the following chart to determine the best type of child seat for the age of your child:

Car Seat Chart

Birth - 12 Months

Children under the age of 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat, in the back seat. There are different types of rear-facing car seats:

  1. Infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing.

  2. Convertible and 3-in-1 car seats can be used rear and forward facing, and typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position.  We recommend convertible and 3-in-1 car seats.

1 - 3 Years

Children this age should be kept rear-facing as long as possible.  This age group should ONLY ride in the back seat.  Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat's manufacturer. After your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a five-point harness.

4 - 7 Years

Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat's manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it's time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.

8 - 12 Years

Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face. Children in this age group should only be in the back seat.

Choosing the right car seat

There are so many child safety car seats available on the market it may seem impossible to find the right one for you, your child, and your car.

Now that you can use the chart above to determine which type of seat your child needs (rear-facing, forward facing, booster), use the following for your next steps:

Find the right type of car seat for your child from the information above, then test:

  1. Does it fit in your car?

    1. Does it fit level on the seat?

    2. Will the driver have enough room? 

    3. If you have more than one child, can the others fit (can their safety seats fit)?

  2. Can it be installed correctly?  You must be able to install the car seat correctly, and it should be tight.  If not, return it and try another one.

Anytime you're in doubt, locate a certified child safety seat inspector in your area to help you.

 

The basics

  • Car crashes are the #1 killer of children 1-13 years old
  • Under age 1: rear facing, back seat only
  • Keep kids rear facing as long as possible
  • Have a certified tech make sure your child safety seat is installed correctly in your car