As a parent, I don’t think there is anything we can do that is more important that protecting our kids. And properly using a car seat or booster seat is one of the most important things we can do to help protect our kids.
The National Center for Health Statistics says that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for the 2-14 year old age group. And a lot of the problem is in Texas. Texas and California are neck and neck for the 1 and 2 rankings of the number of child deaths from car wrecks, and both states have almost twice as many deaths as the third ranked state.
Many of these deaths can be prevented by the proper use of car seats and booster seats. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration studies show that child safety seats can reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers. And Center for Disease Control studies show that proper use of booster seats reduce the risk of injury by 59 percent.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has released its 2009 car seat guide, which summarizes as follows:
Infants: Infact seats and rear facing convertible seats. All infants younger than 1 year and who weigh less than 20 pounds should always ride rear-facing.
Toddlers/Preschoolers: Convertible seats. Children 1 year of age and at least 20 pounds can ride forward-facing. It is best to ride rear-facing as long as possible.
School-aged children: Booster seats. Booster seats are for older children who have outgrown their forward-facing car safety seats. Children should stay in a booster seat until adult belts fit correctly (usually when a child reaches about 4’9″ in height and is between 8 and 12 years of age)
Older children: Seat belts. Children who have outgrown their booster seats should ride in a lap and shoulder belt in the back seat until 13 years of age.
While all seats are important, I want to emphasize the booster seat requirement. Most parents are good about keeping their kids in car seats, but I see a LOT of kids that aren’t 4’9″ and don’t use booster seats. This is just dangerous.
Seat belts are designed for adults. If your child doesn’t meet the 4’9″ requirement, then the seat belts will not keep the child in position in a serious wreck. The child will be unrestrained and could be ejected or partially ejected from the vehicle, almost certainly killing the child.
I know there’s a lot of pressure from kids and even other parents to not use the booster seats, but as an attorney who only handles auto porduct liability cases told me, “I just tell other parents [who don’t require kids to use booster seats] that I’m glad to know I love my kids more than they love theirs.”
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