Each year, tens of thousands of children are injured or die as the result of a motor vehicle accident. Take 2017, for instance. That year, 116,000 kids aged 12 and under were injured, and 675 died in accidents. Thirty-five percent of the kids who lost their lives were not buckled up or in a booster seat. Car and booster seats save lives, so get the necessary information and protect your children.
Types of Car Seats
You want to follow car and booster seat laws, and that begins by understanding the options. There are specific types of booster and car seats for different age groups.
If you have a baby, you need a special infant car seat. Choose a rear-facing or rear-facing convertible baby car seat. Many parents choose a convertible car seat because it can accommodate babies and toddlers. You’ll need to read the guidelines for the seat, but convertible car seats can usually be used for around two years.
Toddlers and preschoolers can sit facing the front. You can get a forward-facing convertible or forward-facing harness toddler car seat. Check the car seat requirements to find out how long your child can ride in this seat. A toddler car seat can usually accommodate kids up to 65 pounds or so.
School-aged children graduate to a booster seat. You’ll need to make the switch as soon as your child gets too big for the forward-facing car seat. When your child no longer requires a booster seat, he or she will use a seatbelt.
When Can a Child Stop Using a Booster?
Children generally need to use a booster seat until they are between the ages of 10 and 12. However, you shouldn’t switch to a seatbelt based solely on age. You need to make sure it will protect your child before making the switch. You can have your child take a simple test to see if it’s time to switch.
Have your child sit in the backseat without the booster. Buckle the seatbelt and then do a thorough check. First, see if your child sits all the way back in the seat.
Next, are your child’s legs able to bend at the edge of the seat? Also, does the seatbelt rest right below your child’s stomach and touch the top of his or her thighs?
Then, see where the shoulder belt is centered. It should be between the neck and shoulder.
Finally, ask yourself if your child can maintain that position for the entire ride.
If your child passes this test, it’s time to move from a booster seat to a seatbelt. If not, keep using the booster seat and check again a few months down the road.
Stay Safe on the Road
Taking precautions is critical for keeping your kids safe on the road. Make sure you use the right car seats and booster seats and switch to seatbelts when the time is right. You might not be able to avoid ever getting into an accident, but with the proper safety equipment, you lower the risk of anyone getting seriously injured.
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*Based on a Q1 2020 study of Freeway Insurance customers who reported saving when they switched.