Motor Vehicle Safety
Child safety seats are extremely effective when correctly installed and used in passenger cars - however, 4 out of 5 car seats are used improperly. Could yours be one of them?
Right Seat, Right Time and Used the Right Way Every Time
The best way to protect a child in the car is to use the right seat at the right time and the right way every time he/she rides. Recommendations to keep children safe in the vehicle:
- Select a car seat based on the child’s age and size; choose a seat that fits in your vehicle and use it every time
- Always refer to your specific car seat manufacturer’s instructions, read the vehicle owner’s manual on how to install the car seat using the seat belt or LATCH system, and check height and weight limits
- To maximize safety, keep a child in the car seat for as long as possible, as long as the child fits within the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements
- Keep children in the back seat at least through age 12
For more information visit SaferCar.gov.
Who Is At Risk?
Riding unrestrained is the greatest risk factor for death and injury among child occupants of motor vehicles.
Misuse of child safety seats is widespread. It is estimated that approximately 85% of children who are placed in child safety seats and booster seats are improperly restrained.
Driver safety belt use is positively associated with child restraint use.
The back seat is the safest place for children to ride. It is estimated that children ages 12 and under are 36% less likely to die in a crash if seated in the rear seat of a passenger vehicle.
- Child safety seats are extremely effective when correctly installed and used in passenger cars.
- Adult safety belts do not adequately protect children ages 4 to 8 (about 40 to 80 pounds) from injury in a crash.
- Always use child safety seats and/or safety belts correctly every time you ride. Restrain children ages 12 and under in a back seat.
- Infants, until at least 1 year old and at least 20 pounds, must be in rear-facing child safety seats. Never put a rear-facing infant or convertible safety seat in the front passenger seat of a vehicle with an active passenger air bag. For optimal protection, children should remain rear-facing until age 2, or until the maximum height or weight limit allowed by the car seat manufacturer.
- Children should remain in a forward-facing harness until they reach the maximum weight or height for the harness.
- Read your child safety seat instruction manual and your motor vehicle owner's manual for directions on proper installation.
Child Safety Seat Use
Before you hit the road, read this:
- Take a minute to be sure your child is riding safely. Study your vehicle owner's manual and car seat instructions carefully.
- Never place a rear-facing infant in the front seat of a vehicle with a passenger air bag.
- Send in the car seat registration card to be notified in case your car seat is recalled. If you have any questions, call the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Auto Safety Hotline at 888-DASH-2DOT.
- Replace any car seat that has been involved in a crash.
- Route the safety belt correctly through the car seat.
- Correctly buckle the car seat into the vehicle.
- Get a tight fit -- the seat should not move more than one inch from side to side or toward the front of the vehicle.
- Check your vehicle owner's manual to see if you need a locking clip.
- Always use the top tether strap on forward facing seats if your car has a top tether anchor.
Adapted from the National SAFE KIDS Campaign.
Safe Kids PA endorses American Academy of Pediatrics child passenger safety recommendations.