A young father strapping his baby into a car seat

Purchasing a car seat for your child is an important way to help insure their safety during car trips short and long alike. What’s also important is choosing the proper seat for your child, and utilizing it properly. Often, the mechanisms that keep a car seat securely fastened are complicated- and a car seat’s safety benefits will only be fully realized when it has been correctly installed. A car seat (also known as a child’s safety seat or a child restraint system) comes with an elaborate set of harnesses designed to keep your child snugly in place, and aims to protect a child from injury in the event of an accident.

After your child has outgrown the car seat, they can use a booster seat during the transitional years between child and adulthood. Whereas a car seat has harnesses, a booster seat instead lifts a child into a position where a car’s pre-existing seat belts can accurately moor the child into place. If seat belts lay across your child in improper places, they can cause injuries instead of preventing them during a crash.

In 2011, 650 children under the age of 12 were killed in automobile accidents in the United States. Nearly 150,000 more were injured. A whole thirty-three percent of these deaths involved children who were not buckled up at the time of the accident. This statistic, above all others, may most fully represent the importance of properly bucking your child up when driving in a motor vehicle.

Should I Use A Forward or Backward-Facing Car Seat?

After many years of conflicting theories about car seats, studies have proven that rear-facing car seats provide the highest amount of safety for small children. And while there was, previously, a pervasive idea that a child should switch to the forward-facing option after their first birthday, modern science now suggests that to maximize protection potential, a child should remain in the backwards-facing model until they reach the size and weight limitations of the seat. Even if a child’s legs and arms seem “too long” or “uncomfortable” in a rear-facing car seat, scientists have proven that rear-facing seats are much better at protecting the limbs of children in accidents. The most important responsibility of a parent is to perform their due diligence and find out the precise size capacities of the car seat they have chosen. Making certain that a child hasn’t outgrown their seat, and keeping them in the right model, is the greatest way to ensure their safety.

Child Passenger Safety Facts

Here are some stats that confirm the effectiveness of using a car seat:

  • Using a car seat can greatly reduce the risk of death in young children riding in passenger vehicles:
    • In infants (children less than a year old) a car seat can reduce the risk of death by 71%
    • In toddlers (children between the ages of 1 and 4) a car seat can reduce the risk of death by 54%
  • Booster seats, used by older children, generally under the age of 8, can reduce the risk of serious injury by 45%, compared to the use of the seat belt unaccompanied