Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for children up to the age of fourteen, according to the Kansas Department of Transportation. Many of these deaths occurred because the children were not properly restrained.
Motor vehicle accidents are also one of the top ten causes of non-fatal injuries for children in this age range.
Most parents agree that their infant or toddler needs to ride in a car seat, but put their older children in a regular seat way too early, which means they are not fully protected if in a car accident.
Seat belts are made for adults. Children won't be ready to use a seat belt until they weigh 80 pounds, or are 4'9" tall. Until that time, the seat belt rides on the abdomen, and the shoulder strap may ride over the neck, either of which can cause serious injuries in an accident.
In July of 2006, legislation was passed that requires children ages 4, 5, 6 and 7, and who weigh less than 80 pounds or are shorter than 4'9" must be in booster seats. Booster seats raise a child up so that the lap and shoulder belts are positioned for safety.
The legislation allowed for a one year warning period. Starting July 1, 2007, $60.00 citations may be issued, plus the court costs.
Current State Law Requires
• Infants under the age of one and weigh less than twenty pounds must be in a rear-facing child seat;
• Children ages 1, 2, and 3 must be properly restrained in a forward-facing child seat;
• Children ages 4 to 7 must use a booster seat in addition to a safety belt (weight and height exemption below);
• Children age 4 to 7 that weighs at least 80 pounds or are at least 4'9" tall are exempt from the booster seat law, but are still required to wear a seat belt;
• Children ages 8 to 13 must wear a safety belt.
Most children will sit in a booster seat if parents are firm about it. Emphasize the fact booster seats are for safety, and highlight other features such as the cup holders, arm rests, and being able to look out the window. If the child is resistant to sitting in a high back booster seat, and your car has built-in head rests, then you may be able to use a low-back booster seat, which looks less like a car seat. Low-back booster seats are inexpensive, easy to move between cars, and hard to see from the outside of the car, so your child's friends don't have to know that they are in a car seat, if that is the issue.
Which Car Safety Seat is the Best?
No one car seat is the best or the safest. The best safety seat is the one that fits your child, is correctly installed, and is properly used when you drive. Don't base your decision solely on price when purchasing a car seat. Higher prices usually mean added features that may or may not make the seat safer or easier to use. All car safety seats sold in the United States must meet strict safety standards established and maintained by the Federal Government.
When you find a seat you like, try it out. Put your child in it and adjust the harnesses and buckles. Make it sure it fits properly and securely in your car.
Important Safety Rules
• Never place your child in a rear-facing safety seat in the front seat of a vehicle that has a passenger air bag
• The safest place for all children to ride is in the back seat
• Set a good example: always wear your seat belt
• Each child safety seat is different. Read and keep the instructions that came with your seat handy, and follow the manufacturer's instructions
• Read your car's owner's manual on how to correctly install car safety seats