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Parents: What You Need to Know about Car Seats

Published July 1, 2015 by Scott Gottlieb, Injury Law Attorney
At Scott C. Gottlieb, Injury Law Attorney, we want you to focus on getting better – and we’ll handle everything else.

As a parent you want to do all you can to keep your child safe, particularly when traveling, going on vacation, or taking a long road trip. One of the primary ways to keep your child safe is to make sure he or she is properly secured in the right-sized car seat.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), vehicle-related accidents and injuries are one of the main causes of death among children in the United States. In 2013, the CDC reported that unintentional motor vehicle traffic collisions were responsible for 1,149 fatalities among children under the age of 15 losing.

What is even more surprising is a CDC study which revealed that over the course of just one year more than 618,000 children under the age of 13 were allowed to ride as passengers in vehicles without a car seat, booster seat or a seatbelt. The risk of serious or fatal injuries can be significantly reduced when children are placed in booster and car seats appropriate for their specific age and size. In fact, the correct car seat can reduce the risk of serious or fatal car accident injuries by more than 50 percent, according to the CDC.

Recommended Car Seats by Age Group

Determining the proper car seat can be confusing. Most car seats have varying age, weight and height restrictions, and reviews from consumers do not always help. Consumer Reports has done exhaustive research to compile a car seat buying guide and car seat ratings report which may be helpful in deciding the brand, style and features you want for your child’s car seat.

The following are the CDC-recommended car seats by age group:

  • Rear-facing car seats: Until a child reaches two years of age, he or she should be buckled in a rear-facing car seat. The only exception is for children who have reached the upper height or weight limits of the rear-facing seat.
  • Forward-facing car seats: Between the ages of two and five, children should be placed and securely buckled in a forward-facing car seat until the point when the child reaches the manufacturer’s height or weight limits for that seat.
  • Booster seats: Once a child has outgrown his or her forward-facing car seat, it is recommended the child be placed in a booster seat. When properly secured, a booster seat can offer an additional level of protection for a child until he or she is at least 57 inches tall, which is the height at which most seat belts will fit properly. The age at which a child will reach this recommended height will vary, so some children will need to remain in a booster seat longer than others.

Car Seat Safety Tips for Parents

As a family with children, you probably spend quite a bit of time in your vehicle, even more so when the children are out of school. Whether you are driving to play dates, taking the kids to and from camp, going on vacation or take a road trip to visit relatives, it is important you always keep safety in mind. Here are a few additional car seat safety tips for parents:

  • Read your child seat manual to make sure you are using it according to manufacturer instructions.
  • If you are uncertain about whether your car seat is installed correctly, the state of New York has many Child Safety Seat Inspection Stations where you can schedule an appointment and go to have your child’s car seat checked.
  • Always check your child’s car seat, booster seat or seat belt to make sure he or she is safely secured before you drive off.
  • Until your child is 13 years of age, he or she should always ride in the backseat of a vehicle.

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