Ensuring the safety of child passengers

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

In 2009, 1,314 children ages 14 years and younger died in motor vehicle crashes, and about 179,000 were injured. But parents and caregivers can make a lifesaving difference.

Follow these guidelines for child passenger safety:

Birth through age 2 -- Rear-facing child safety seat. For the best protection, infants and children should be kept in a rear-facing child safety seat, in the back seat buckled with the seat's harness, until they reach the upper weight or height limits of their particular seat. The weight and height limits on rear-facing child safety seats can accommodate most children through age 2.

Ages 2 to 4/until 40 pounds -- Forward-facing child safety seat. When children outgrow their rear-facing seats, they should ride in forward-facing child safety seats, in the back seat buckled with the seat's harness, until they reach the upper weight or height limit of their particular seat (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds; many newer seats have higher weight limits).

Ages 4 to 8 or until 4'9" tall -- Booster seat. Once children outgrow their forward-facing seats (by reaching the upper height and weight limits of their seat), they should ride in belt positioning booster seats. Remember to keep children in the back seat for the best protection.

After age 8 and/or 4'9" tall -- Seat belts. Children should use booster seats until adult seat belts fit them properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs (not the stomach) and the shoulder belt fits across the chest (not the neck). When adult seat belts fit children properly they can use the adult seat belts without booster seats. Keep children in the back seat and use lap-and-shoulder belts.

All children younger than 13 years should ride in the back seat. Air bags can kill young children riding in the front seat.

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