Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for children in the US. Buckling up is the best way to save lives and reduce injuries.
Child passenger restraint laws result in more children being buckled up. Only 2 out of every 100 children live in states that require car seat or booster seat use for children age 8 and under.
A third of children who died in crashes in 2011 were not buckled up. We—especially parents and caregivers—can do more to protect children on the road.
Parents and caregivers can keep children safe by:
- Knowing how to use car seats, booster seats, and seat belts.
- Using them on every trip, no matter how short.
- Setting a good example by always using a seat belt themselves.
Texas Law can be accessed here TxDPS Recommendations 2013 Child Passenger Safety National Best Practice Recommendations
Phase 1 – Rear-Facing Seats
Infants: Birth – 35+ pounds, 2+ years old. Rear-facing infant or rear-facing convertible safety seat as long as possible, up to the rear-facing height or weight limit of the seat. Properly install according to instructions in owner’s manual, rear-facing in the back seat.
Phase 2 – Forward-facing Seats
When children outgrow the rear-facing safety seat (2+ years), they should ride in a forward-facing safety seat as long as possible, up to the upper height or weight limit (40 – 80+ pounds) of the harnesses. Usually 4+ years old. Properly installed forward-facing in the back seat. NEVER turn forward-facing before child meets all: AGE/HEIGHT/WEIGHT requirements set by safety seat manufacturer for forward-facing.
Phase 3 – Booster Seats
After age 4 and 40+ pounds, children can ride in a booster seat with the adult lap and shoulder belt until the adult safety belt will fit them properly (usually when the child is 4’9″ tall, 10 – 12 years old). MUST have a lap/shoulder belt to use a booster seat.
Phase 4 – Adult Safety Belt
Once children outgrow their booster seat (usually at 4’9″, 10 – 12 years) they can use the adult lap/shoulder safety belt if it fits them properly.
Lap portion low over the hips/tops of thighs and shoulder belt crosses the center of the shoulder and center of the chest.
Children are better protected the longer they can stay in each phase. Keep children in each seat up to the maximum age/weight/height limits before moving to the next phase. ALL children younger than age 13 years should ride properly restrained in the back seat.
Children come in all shapes and sizes and often outgrow their seat before they reach the age restriction of 2 years. Follow your car safety seat’s restriction guidelines and here is advice from The American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement
Another great resource is SAFEKIDS.ORG
Here is a link to a checklist for parents
CDC Child Passenger Safety main page