Car crashes are the number one killer of children. The best way to protect them in the car is to put them in the right seat, at the right time, and use it the right way.
This week serves as a reminder to parents to make sure we are putting our kids in the correct car seats for their age.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [NHTSA], you should follow these child car seat rules:
Birth to age 12 months: Your child under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat.
1 – 3 years: Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. It’s the best way to keep him or her safe. Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.
4 – 7 years: Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it’s time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.
8 – 12 years: Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face. Remember: your child should still ride in the back seat because it’s safer there.
The NHTSA has estimated that close to 3 out of 4 parents do not properly use child restraints, which means that even if you follow the safety guidelines above, that child safety seat may not protect your child the way it should. It’s a good idea to bring it to an inspection station to have an expert check it out. Here’s a local Middlesex County inspection station:
Middlesex County Child Safety Seat Station on the Rutgers University Campus 129 Davidson Rd., Piscataway, NJ Hours: Wednesdays 7 - 11am, Thursdays 3 - 7 pm and the first Saturday of each month 9 am to noon For more information call: 732-932-1368
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