According to statistics, our cars and trucks are getting a little bit safer each year. In fact, recent years have seen some of the lowest traffic accident fatality rates on record, and this is largely due to the fact that we know more about trauma and crash-readiness than ever before. Still, all the research and safety technology in the world doesn’t mean a thing if they aren’t properly utilized by the people in the car, especially in the case of children. Motor vehicle collisions are still the number one cause of death and injuries to children (https://www.levinperconti.com/injuries-to-children.html) between the ages of 3-14 in the United States, and the fact that 3 out of every 4 parents don’t properly install and use their kid’s safety restraints only exacerbates this problem.
We know that children who ride in age and size appropriate car seats and safety restraints reduce their chance of serious and potentially fatal injury by more than 50%; with this in mind, our lawyers want to provide you with the resources you need to help keep your kids as safe as possible. What follows is a guide to proper safety restraint usage throughout the various stages of your child’s life, as well as a guide to handling recalls:
0-12 Months-Any child under one year old should be riding in a rear-facing car seat. Generally speaking, there are three main kinds of rear-facing car seats: infant-only seats, convertible car seats, and 3-in-1 car seats. Infant car seats can only be used safely in the rear-facing position, while convertible and 3-in-1 seats may feature higher weight and height accommodations to allow you to keep your car seat longer. Children should always ride in the back seat.
1-3 Years-It’s important not to rush into buying a front facing car seat as soon as your child reaches one year old. Remember that the height and weight requirements are what matter, and that rear-facing seats are the best way to keep young kids safe until they are physically able to use a forward-facing seat with a harness. Only once your child has outgrown his weight and height should you make the switch.
4-7 Years-Try to keep your child in a car seat as long as possible. Once they have outgrown their second car seat, it is okay for them to travel in a booster seat that will protect them. Seat belts are often too big for young kids, and instead of the shoulder harness being at the chest, it is closer to the neck, which can be very dangerous in the event of an accident.
8-12 Years-For a seat belt to keep one safe the lap belt must lie across the upper thighs, not the stomach, and the shoulder belt should be snug against your child’s shoulders and chest. Even when your child reaches this stage, it is still safer for them to be seated in the backseat.
Registration and Recalls-To make sure you are promptly notified in the event that your child’s car seat is recalled, register your car seat online at SaferCar.gov, the NHTSA’s vehicle safety website. If a car seat that you own is recalled get it fixed immediately, most problems are minor, but some can be very serious. If you do not have access to another car seat in the short term, check to see whether the recall permits you to use your current seat while waiting for replacement or repair. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; SaferCar.gov; National Safety Council; Center for Disease Control and Prevention)
Our attorneys are committed to helping Illinois residents and their families stay safe, and Levin & Perconti has been helping the victims of Illinois car accidents for decades. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, we can help you too.