This Is How Much Safer Your Kids Are In A Car Seat
If you’re a mother or father — whether you’ve been doing it for decades or you’re only a few weeks in — your children are truly special. And if they’re under the age of seven, they need special care because their young bodies are still developing and they are more vulnerable than older children and adults.
One place where they’re at their most vulnerable is in an auto accident. That’s why most US laws dictate that parents with young children must have their little ones in some kind of a protective car seat up to a certain age limit.
Laws In General
The laws vary as to what the cutoff age is, but most dictate that if your child is seven years old or younger, they must be properly secured in either a rear-facing car seat, a front-facing car seat, or a child booster seat.
When it comes to safety standards per age limit, the recommendation from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is birth-to-12 months for rear-facing; one to three years for front-facing; four to seven years for booster seats; and seat belts for anyone eight or older.
Fines for violating these laws can range anywhere from $10 (in Michigan) to $500 (in Nevada).
It can certainly be a pain strapping a fussy infant or toddler into their car seat, but it’s truly worth it when you examine the statistics on traffic fatalities involving children. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 650 children die each year in traffic fatalities and over 148,000 are injured. Deaths and injuries cause indescribable pain in the lives of the families affected and also create huge financial burdens with medical care and funeral expenses.
Even so, around 618,000 children, ages 0 to 12, ride in vehicles without the use of a car seat, booster seat, or seat belt. And all it takes is one moment for the worst to happen.
How A Car Seat, Booster, Or Seat Belt Makes A Difference
It may seem hard to quantify the results of placing your child in a car seat or booster. After all, if there isn’t an accident, injury, or death, how can you calculate that? Nevertheless, CDC has managed to track the effectiveness of these valuable items.
The organization notes that if you follow the age safety recommendations listed above, you can reduce risks considerably. How considerably?
Car seat use reduces the risk for death to infants (younger than one year) by 71 percent; and to toddlers (ages 1 to 4 years) by 54 percent in passenger vehicles.
Booster seat use reduces the risk for serious injury by 45 percent for children aged 4 to 8 years when compared with seat belt use alone.
For older children and adults, seat belt use reduces the risk for death and serious injury by approximately 50 percent.
A recent study of five states that increased the age requirement to 7 or 8 years for car seat and booster seat use found that the rate of children using car seats and booster seats increased nearly three times and the rate of children who sustained fatal or incapacitating injuries decreased by 17 percent.
Laws and statistics on traffic accidents have affirmed the necessity of car seat use, but many parents still fail to do it. Whether it’s a moment of overconfidence or a lack of education on how to properly secure the seat into the car, that means a lot of children are at risk. It may take a few extra moments out of your day, but keeping your children safe and secure is worth it.