If you are a parent, I don’t need to tell you that child safety is an issue of paramount importance. Car accidents are the number one cause of fatalities in children under twelve years old in the United States, and many agencies and organizations are working tirelessly to find solutions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is no exception in this sense, and has recently launched a new website entitled Parents Central, where moms and dads from all over the country can learn about the most effective ways to prevent car accident injuries to children. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)
One of the sites most emphatic pieces of advice is one that has been around for decades, putting children in the right seat, the right way while driving. There are a number of different car seat types and models, and sometimes it is not always clear how to use them to protect for your child. Our lawyers have seen the life altering effects of child injuries, as well as the fiscal and emotional stress that it places on families. All of us at Levin Perconti would like to share some valuable tips on how to use a car seat effectively to make your child’s ride as safe as it can possibly be.
• Under 12 Months-Your children should always ride in a rear facing car seat at this age. Infant-only seats are only effective while facing the rear, but convertible car seats for older children have higher weight limits, allowing you to keep your children in the rear-facing position longer.
• 1-3 Years-Keep your children in the rear facing position until they have reached the maximum height and weight allowed by the seat manufacturer. Once this happens it is okay to allow your child to travel in a forward facing car seat with a harness.
• 4-7 Years-Similar to in the previous stages, keep your child in a forward facing car seat until they have reached the manufacturers maximum height and weight. Once this happens it is safe to allow your children to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat of the vehicle.
• 8-12 Years-Keep your child in his or her booster seat until they have grown to fit in a seat belt properly. This stipulates that the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thigh, not the stomach, and that the shoulder belt does the same across the shoulders and chest, not the neck. Remember, it is always safer for the child to ride in the back seat, even at this age. (safercar.gov/parents)
In Illinois, parents should take advantage of local car seat safety check programs. Hospitals, police and fire departments throughout Chicago offer these services to parents to ensure that their child’s car seat is properly installed and meets all safety standards. You can find locations in your area by visiting the NHTSA’s Child Seat Safety Check Locator.
Unfortunately the world is not perfect, and there are reckless and careless people on every roadway at some point. Our lawyers are committed to sharing our collective expertise with our clients and readers as often as possible to ensure that if and when tragedy strikes they will be prepared to handle it.