According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle crashes are the #1 killer of kids in age groups 1-14. Safe Kids USA says motor vehicle crashes are the #1 cause of unintentional injury-related death for all children 14 and under.
While some crashes are unsurvivable, over 57% of deaths for children 0-15 were because the child was unrestrained. Many more were improperly restrained. Nationally, the misuse rate for child safety seats is over 80% and as high as 95% in some areas. The good news is that correct use of car seats and boosters does save lives. Infant seats have been shown to reduce fatal injury by 71%, and toddler seats by 54%. The information and links on this web page can help you with one of the easiest and most important ways you can protect your children.
- Kids 12 and under should ALWAYS ride in the back seat. This cuts their risk of death by 36%.
- Kids should be in a car seat or booster until they can be seated properly in a seatbelt. For most kids, this is around 8 years old or 4' 9" tall, but proper seatbelt fit is the most important factor.
- Never place a rear-facing car seat in the front seat when there is an active frontal airbag.
- Keep your baby rear-facing as long as possible. That can mean up to 35 or 40 pounds in most current convertible seats unless they outgrow it by height first.
- All current car seats pass government safety standards. Select the one that best fits your child, your vehicle, and your budget. Some models do have different features; select one that has the features that will allow you to use it correctly EVERY trip.
- Always read the owner's manuals for your vehicle and car seat thoroughly. They often contain specific information about car seat installation that may not be obvious. Some models may vary from what you would expect.
- Make sure that the harness fits snugly on your child, the car seat fits snugly in your vehicle, and that your vehicle seatbelts are locked properly.
- When you buy a car seat, make sure you have a good return policy in case it doesn't fit or in case you find you don't like it. Have your seat inspected by a certified technician for free at a checkup event or fitting station.
- Please be wary of used car seats, especially those over six years old, those with an unknown history that may have been in a crash, those that show any form of cracks or damage, and those with missing labels, model number, manufacturing date, instructions or parts.
- Please give driving your complete, unimpaired attention and wear your own seatbelt all the time. These two simple steps are among these easiest ways you can protect yourself and your passengers from injury or death.