Every 33 seconds, a child in the U.S. is involved in a car crash. Regrettably, over a third of the children who died in those crashes were not in a car seat restraint, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Using child car seats helps save lives and prevent injuries – it's also the law in Texas . A child who is under the age of 8 years must use a car or booster seat, unless the child is taller than 4 feet 9 inches.
Pick the right car seat and position for your child.
The back seat is the safest place for children ages 0-12 years to ride. Children graduate to the next car seat based on their height and weight. Check the sticker on the side of the car or booster seat to find the height and weight limits of the car seat.
Rear-facing safety seats
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, your child should ride in rear-facing car seats for as long as possible, up to the limits of their safety seat. Because of the force of airbags when they deploy, rear-facing seats should never be used in front seats that have airbags.
Forward-facing safety seats
After outgrowing the rear-facing seat, your child should ride in a forward-facing seat until they reach the maximum height and weight limit (typically 40-80 pounds) listed by the manufacturer.
Booster safety seats
Booster seats are for children who have outgrown the height and weight limit of their car safety seat but do not yet fit the lap and shoulder seatbelt. The booster seat gives them the boost in height needed for regular seat and shoulder belts. By law, all children must be in a car or booster seat until they are 8 years old or 4 feet 9 inches tall.
Adult safety belts
When your child fits properly into the regular lap and shoulder belt, they no longer need to ride in a child safety seat. The lap belt should fit low on the hips; and the shoulder belt should fit across the center of the shoulder and center of the chest. To avoid serious injury in case of a car crash, children should always use the seatbelt correctly and never place the seatbelt under their arm or behind their back.
Installing a car seat correctly can be tricky
A study conducted by NHTSA reported that 46% of child car seats are not installed correctly or children are not restrained correctly in the car safety seat. More significantly, based on the car seat fitting station data at Children’s Health℠, about three-fourths of the children in North Texas are riding in car seats with at least one installation error.
Check the car seat manufacturer instructions to learn how to correctly install the seat and for any changes needed to installation as your child grows.
Children’s Health Injury Prevention Service offers free car seat checks by appointment. The service is open to anyone and only takes about 30 minutes. You can schedule your appointment online. For more information, call our car seat hotline at 214-456-2059.
Stay current on the health insights that make a difference to your children. Sign up for the Children's Health newsletter and have more tips sent directly to your inbox.