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Car Seats and Child Safety

Car Seats and Child Safety Facts

Patient Comments

It is well documented that in the United States, the leading cause of preventable deaths among children results from injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents. Simply placing children in age- and size-appropriate car seats and booster seats reduces the incidence of these injuries by more than 50%.

One of parents' primary responsibilities is to protect their children from injury. Nowhere is protection more crucial than in transporting children in motor vehicles.

  • Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death to children of all races.
  • Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in children 5-14 years of age.
  • Proper use of motor vehicle occupant restraints has been shown to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured in car crashes.
  • Here is a historical review of the important events in the evolution of auto occupant safety restraints
    • 1968 - Seat belts installed in front and back seats
    • 1970 - First protective infant car seat
    • 1975 - Car seat use estimated at 5%
    • 1978 - First state passes mandatory child restraint law
    • 1981 - First federal car seat crash test standard
    • 1985 - Child restraint use laws in all 50 states
    • 1985 - Several states pass mandatory seat belt laws
    • .
    • 1998 - Car seat use is estimated at 71%.
    • 1999 - Introduction of universal child restraint systems with standard-nylon tethers prevalent on new car seats
    • 1999 - New web-based resources evolve to raise awareness of child safety issues: "SAFE KIDS: Look How Far We've Come," National Safe Kids Campaign
    • 1975 to 2008 - About 9,000 lives were saved by child restraints.
    • 2008 - Car seat use is estimated to be > 95% for children under 1 year of age.

Despite these interventions, in 2008 alone, about four children under the age of 14 were killed in motor vehicle accidents every day, with many more injured.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/29/2016

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Car Seats and Child Safety -- Experience

What is the best child safety car seat, in your experience?

4 Steps for Kids: Child Passenger Safety

Rear-Facing Seats

Infants - from birth to at least 1 year old and at least 20 pounds

For the best possible protection keep infants in the back seat, in rear-facing child safety seats, as long as possible up to the height or weight limit of the particular seat. At a minimum, keep infants rear-facing until a minimum of age 1 and at least 20 pounds.

Toddlers - Age 1 & 20 lbs to Age 4 & 40 lbs

When children outgrow their rear-facing seats (at a minimum age 1 and at least 20 pounds) they should ride in forward-facing child safety seats, in the back seat, until they reach the upper weight or height limit of the particular seat (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds).

Children - from about age 4 to at least age 8

Once children outgrow their forward-facing seats (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds), they should ride in booster seats, in the back seat, until the vehicle seat belts fit properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest (usually at age 8 or when they are 4'9" tall).

Tweens - age 8 and older

When children outgrow their booster seats, (usually at age 8 or when they are 4'9" tall) they can use the adult seat belt in the back seat, if it fits properly (lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest).

SOURCE: NHTSA.gov


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