Rules of the road

Child Passenger Safety Awareness Week provides a useful reminder of how important it is to buckle-up each and every time you take a drive in the car. But, as important as it is to buckle-up, it is not enough!

  • Regularly inspect your car safety seat(s). Make sure the seat belt that holds it securely in its place is snug, each time you belt your child in. Do not continue to use a car seat if it has been damaged or has been in a crash.
  • The back seat is the safest place in the car to ride. This is something we have always known, but this information becomes even more crucial now that a passenger-side air bag is commonly installed in virtually every new car. Remember, placing your child under 12 in the front seat, even when properly secured by a seat belt or car safety seat, is a very dangerous practice. In a crash the airbag inflates very quickly. The force of the air bag deploying can cause serious head and chest injuries or death
  • Childhood restraints are the law in all 50 states. Select the proper seat for your child, make sure that it is properly installed, and use it without fail.
  • Choose the proper size car seat for your child. Infants under 20 pounds AND under two-years-old should be placed in an rear-facing infant seat. Children over two-years of age who have reached the maximum height and weight of their seat should be placed in a full-size car safety seat. Booster seats are then used from about 40 to 60 pounds, or until the child is 4 feet 9 inches tall. When your child outgrows his booster seat -- when he is over 60 or 70 pounds -- use a lap/shoulder belt that fits snugly across his shoulder and chest. If the belt lies across your child's face or throat, you should move him to a position in the back seat where he uses only the lap belt. Do not place the shoulder belt under your child's arm, as this could become hazardous in the event of an accident. Position the lap belt so that it fits snugly across the lower part of your child's lap, and not across his abdomen.
  • Buckle your child into his seat. Do not allow him to do it himself, even if he is able to. This gives you the opportunity to check that his safety seat is secure, and that he is snugly belted-in before each trip.
  • Don't start the car until everyone is safely belted-in. If during the trip someone removes his seat belt, or begins to climb out of his car seat, find a safe place to pull off the road and help them to get re-secured. Let passengers know that the car isn't moving until everyone is buckled-up.
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