The statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) confirm a sad fact: Car crashes are the number one killer of children ages 1 - 12 in the United States. Yet many parents apparently are unaware of the best way to protect their children from this danger: properly choosing and using the right car seat at all times. What determines a proper car seat? Your child's age and size. Here are the specific NHTSA guidelines:
- Birth - 12 months. If your child is less than a year old, he or she must always ride in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat. There are different types of infant seats: Infant-only seats can be used only in the rear-facing position. Some convertible and 3-in-1 car seats have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time.
- 1 - 3 years. The best way to keep your toddler safe is to keep him or her rear-facing as long as possible. Until your child reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat's manufacturer, he or she should remain in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, he or she is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.
- 4 - 7 years. Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat's manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it's time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.
- 8 - 12 years. Your child should still ride in the back seat because it's safer there. Until your child is large enough to fit in a seat belt properly, keep him or her in a booster seat. For a seat belt to fit properly, the shoulder belt should lie snugly across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face. Also, the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach.
If injury should occur, are you certain your current auto insurance coverage will be ready to respond? Talk with your agent today.
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