While riding in a car is one of the safest modes of transportation in the U.S., it is also one of the leading causes of personal injury and death. Fortunately, many of those injuries can be prevented with proper car seat and seat belt usage.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the four stages of car seat/seat belt usage led to a decrease in the rate of children with fatal or incapacitating injuries by 17 percent
Car seat/seat belt stages
Remember, the middle of the back seat is the safest position in the vehicle for a child. Never put a child in the front seat because deploying airbags can be deadly for smaller passengers. Here are the four stages of car seat/seat belt usage:
- From birth to age two to four, buckle children into rear-facing car seats in the back seat. The key is your child’s weight and height, not age – check the labels on the seat or the seat’s owner’s manual for proper height and weight limits
- After outgrowing rear-facing seats until about age five, buckle children into a forward-facing seat in the back seat. Again, check for upper height and weight limits for this position
- After outgrowing forward-facing seats, buckle children into the back seat with a booster seat. The belt should be across the upper thighs, not the stomach, and across the chest, not the neck.
- Once a seat belt fits properly, children can use a seat belt without a booster seat.
The CDC also suggests all adult set a good example by wearing their own seat belts.
Some facts and figures
Here are some statistics offered by the CDC regarding car seats and seat belts:
- When compared to using a seat belt alone, using a car seat reduces the risk of injury by as much as 82 percent and using a booster seat reduces the risk of injury by 45 percent
- More than 720 children died and more than 128,000 children were injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2016
- About 20 percent of motor vehicle deaths of children 15 and under between 2001 and 2010 involved drunk driving, and 65 percent of the time they were in cars being driven by drunk drivers.
- Almost 40 percent of children riding with unbelted drivers were themselves unbelted.
Drivers and front-seat passengers in all states (except New Hampshire) must wear seat belts.