Most parents follow the law when it comes to getting car seats that fit their children and installing them in their vehicles appropriately, per manufacturer’s instructions. However, simply having a car seat isn’t enough to protect your kids in case of an accident. Scientific American recently analyzed the car seat safety rules that parents ignore most often, and researchers offered clear explanations regarding why ignoring these rules results in tragedy.
Rear-facing is safest, by test. Since many rear-facing seats can accommodate children up to 40 pounds now, strive to keep your children rear-facing as long as you can. After all, over 140,000 children need emergency room treatment for serious car accident injuries every year as a result of not sitting in the safest seat for their size.
Children need a booster seat, so that the lap and shoulder belt lie in the correct places on the body: the lap belt low across the hipbones, the shoulder belt flat against the center of the chest and the shoulder, not the neck. Car crashes are the number-one cause of death for children over age 3 in the U.S., largely because 90 percent of children are not properly secured.
Although the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that no child sit in the front seat before age 13, regardless of size, one in every four kids is already there between the ages of 8 and 10. Since a child’s bones rapidly develop before age 13, however, a front-seat crash can do permanent damage that a back-seat crash might not cause.
Rules regarding car safety evolve over time. For more on what’s new in 2016 (that you actually need to know as a parent), check out this provocative piece: Is “Textalizer” in the Future for Drivers Who Text While Driving and Cause Collisions?
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