Car seats are some of the best investments you can make in the health and safety of your children. Find out here how the right car seat keeps your child safe while driving and what to keep an eye on when buying a car seat.
Legal Regulations for Car Seats
All 50 states and the US territories have enacted legal regulations that stipulate the use of a car seat. However, rules regarding age, height, or weight differ. In general, most states differentiate the use of a car seat according to three different stages:
- Infants should sit in rear-facing car seats
- Small children should use forward-facing car seats
- Bigger children can sit on booster seats in the passenger seat
In addition, most US states require children to travel in the back seat. They are only allowed to ride in the front passenger seat after reaching a certain age. The same applies to driving without a car seat: in most states, children must be 57 inches tall. Only then they are large enough so that a normal seat belt for adults is enough protection.
Driving Without a Car Seat Is a No Go
The penalties for driving with a child without a suitable car seat also vary from state to state. First-time offenders usually receive fines as punishment. In
Massachusetts, for example, the fine is only $25. Traffic offenders in the District of Columbia, on the other hand, pay $75 for a violation and they collect points against their driver’s license. The state of Iowa punishes even a first offense of their child passenger safety law with $195.
However, there are far more important reasons to use a car seat than fear of getting a ticket! First and foremost, of course, is the safety of your son or daughter. Between 2010 and 2014, almost 3,000 children died in motor vehicle accidents in the USA. The New York Times reported that of those fatal vehicle accidents, 43% were either not wearing a seat belt or were not properly fastened. In an accident, a good car seat can also prevent serious injuries such as a concussion or broken bones.
Which Car Seat for Which Age?
It’s important to find the right car seat for your child. Yes, car seats are expensive – but you should not compromise on them. A new car seat is crucial because it will be at the cutting edge of technology.
Remember: car seats have an expiration date, which is usually 6 years after they’re made. So even though multiple children can use the same seat, they don’t last forever! Check with the manufacturer if you have a question.
Need another money-saving tip: Have relatives or grandparents sponsor their children’s car seats. That makes more sense than the hundredth birthday toy, and their life-saving efforts are far more valuable.
When buying a car seat, you should pay attention to the manufacturer’s information about size and weight. Car seats for newborns and infants should always face backward and have an adjustable headrest. You especially need to protect the head of a newborn who can’t hold their head upright, yet!
However, even in car seats for small children, the head should never protrude beyond the backrest. From about school age, children can then switch to a booster seat, depending on their size.
A Car Seat for Guaranteed Safety
However, experts such as those at the American Automobile Association (AAA), advise parents not to rush to move the child to the next class of car seats. Because even if a child can fit in a booster seat, they’re less safe than a standard car seat. Of course, if your child exceeds the height/weight limit for their seat, they need a bigger seat. Several car seats fit children up to 120 pounds, so the size limit for some seats is pretty generous.
Talk to independent experts to get advice before you buy your next car seat, and let them show you how to install the seat in the car properly. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will also be happy to help. Another factor that determines the safety of a car seat is the quality. When buying a car seat, make sure that it has been tested by an independent institute. The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA), for example, issues a seal of quality for products with higher standards.
We wish you and your family a safe and pleasant journey! If you take a longer break on your trip, take a look at FamilyApp. You’ll find a lot more exciting information concerning the safety of your family, and you can talk with relatives about the right kind of car safety.