Today kicks off National Child Passenger Safety Week. This is an important awareness week, with events across the country designed to make sure your car seats are installed correctly.
Car accidents are the number one killer of children 1 to 12 years old in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Sadly, I’ve handled cases involving young children seriously injured and killed, and in these cases, the car seats they were in may have been a contributing cause of their injuries and deaths. Years after a car accident, many of these children still have very serious disabilities, and their lives are forever changed.
There is something you can do now to prevent child injuries resulting from improperly installed car seats. Take advantage of the free car seat safety checks this week. This way, you can be sure your children are in the right car seat at the right time.
Here’s where you can find an inspection station near you: car seat inspection station locator.
Michigan’s child passenger safety law
According to michigan.gov, Michigan’s child passenger safety law requires:
- Children younger than age 4 to ride in a car seat in the rear seat if the vehicle has a rear seat. If all available rear seats are occupied by children under 4, then a child under 4 may ride in a car seat in the front seat. A child in a rear-facing car seat may only ride in the front seat if the airbag is turned off.
- Children to be properly buckled in a car seat or booster seat until they are 8 years old or 4-feet-9-inches tall. Children must ride in a seat until they reach the age requirement or the height requirement, whichever comes first.
Car seat safety guidelines
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has established some guidelines what kind of car seat is best based on a child’s age:
Birth to 12 months: Children under age 1 should ride in a rear-facing car seat.
1 to 3 years: Children should be secured in a forward-facing car seat until they reach the top height or weight limit allowed by the car seat manufacturer.
4 to 7 years: Children should be secured in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until they reach the top height or weight limit allowed by the car seat manufacturer.
8 to 12 years: Children should be secured in a booster seat in the back seat until they are big enough to fit in a seat belt properly.
It’s important to follow your car seat manufacturer’s instructions and your vehicle owner’s manual on how to install your car seat or booster seat. Pay attention to the weight limits.
Here’s more information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on choosing the best car seat.
Also, keep in mind, using a booster seat is 60 percent safer for kids than being restrained by a seat belt alone, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association.
- Photo courtesy of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration