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Child Safety Seats

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Keeping Kids Safe in the Car

Protecting your children in case of a car accident is a parent’s number one priority. The best way to accomplish this is by properly using child safety seats or seat belts. As a driver, child passengers are your responsibility — make sure you understand how to keep children safe while driving.

Proper Use of Seat Belts for Children

  • Children 12 and under should be buckled up in the rear seats.
  • Children should ride in an appropriate child safety seat until 8 years of age, unless they are 4 feet 9 inches tall and weigh 80 pounds.
  • Never hold a child in your lap. An unrestrained 10-pound infant would instantly be ripped from an adult’s arms in a 30-mph collision.
  • The lap belt should cross the child’s upper thighs and the diagonal belt should cross the upper chest and a point between the neck and the center of the shoulder.
  • Children should continue to use a belt-positioning booster until the lap and shoulder belts fit properly and the child’s legs are long enough to bend at the edge of the seat.

Proper Use of Child, Infant and Toddler Safety Seats

  • Infants — From birth to 1 year and less than 20 pounds, infants should be placed in rear-facing child safety seats in the back seat of the car. The harness straps should be at or below shoulder level.
  • Toddlers — From 1 year and at least 20 to 40 pounds, toddlers should be placed in forward-facing child safety seats in the back seat of the car. The harness straps should be at or above the shoulders. Children who are less than 1 year but weigh more than 20 pounds should ride in restraint seats approved for higher rear-facing weights.
  • Young Children — Children more than 40 pounds but less than 4 feet 9 inches tall should be placed in forward-facing booster seats in the back seat of the car. Lap belts should fit low and tight across the thighs, and shoulder belts should fit snugly across the chest and shoulder to prevent abdominal injuries.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides annual safety and ease-of-use ratings for child safety seats, as well as information on child seat recalls and free car seat inspection locations.