Motor vehicle crash deaths in kids younger than 13 have dropped steadily since 1975—thanks in large part to better, safer car seats and child restraints. But there’s still much to be done. Car seats can be tricky to install correctly, and when you have a wiggling, unhappy baby on your hands, it’s not always easy to make sure the child is safely positioned in the seat. Even more commonly, parents or caregivers might move their child out of a car seat too early, or skip over booster seat phase.
We want everyone to stay safe on Georgia’s roads, and one of the best ways to accomplish that is to make sure your child passengers are using the right type of safety restraint—every time they’re in your car.
Stay rear facing as long as possible.
Babies can start out in infant seats or rear-facing convertible car seats, but no matter which way you go, you’ll want to keep your child rear facing as long as it’s safe to do so. Because the spines of young children are still developing, the impact of a crash can cause tremendous damage. Check the height and weight guidelines on your car seat model. Only switch the seat to forward facing when your child has reached them—usually between ages 2 and 3.
Don’t skip the booster seat.
When your child has outgrown his or her forward-facing seat, it’s time for a booster seat. According to Safe Kids Georgia, which provides plenty of resources for drivers on how to check their seat’s safety, kids are 59 percent less likely to be injured in a car crash when using a booster seat instead of just a seat belt. You child will probably need to be at least 4’9’’ before moving to a regular seat belt, and even then, it’s best to stay in the backseat until age 13.
Install it right.
Once you know which type of seat your child should be in, based on their height and age, make sure the seat is installed properly in your car. The seat should be securely attached to the vehicle—not moving more than an inch forward or backward or side-to-side. If your child is in a rear-facing seat, the angle needs to be right; young babies still unable to support their own heads can easily tilt forward in an improperly positioned seat, limiting airflow. Harnesses need to be snug, with the harness chest clip centered on the chest, not low on the stomach.
Get a car seat check.
If it sounds like a lot to manage, it is. That’s why a car seat inspection can be a great way to take some of the pressure off yourself while making sure your seat is installed correctly. You can visit Georgia Highway Safety for a list of car seat safety check locations in your county. A technician will be able to:
- See if your seat is properly installed
- Check it for damage or recalls
- Ensure the seat is the right size and position for your child passenger
- Teach you how to secure the child properly
A car seat can save your child’s life in the event of a crash. It’s always worth taking a few minutes to make sure your seat is installed correctly, isn’t expired or under recall, and is the right type for your child’s size.
If you or your child has been injured in a crash, you need a personal injury attorney to help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact the accident attorneys at Litner + Deganian for a free consultation at our office, conveniently located in Druid Hills near Emory and Decatur.