Anyone who has children knows keeping your young kids quiet and under control on short and long trips can often be a challenge. The bickering between siblings over silly things such as an iPad can be extremely distracting, putting both you and your kids at risk of getting into a car accident. The last thing you want to do is turn around in traffic to tell them to quit arguing, but that’s exactly what many people do.
Over 600,000 children traveled without restraints
As a conscientious parent, you undoubtedly have your kids in a child restraint system whenever they’re riding with you, but that may not be the case in all households. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 600,000 children ranging from only a few months to twelve years old traveled in vehicles without a car seat, booster seat or even a seat belt at least once last year.
Safety statistics from the CDC study showed the following:
- Appropriate use of car seats for infants lowers the risk of fatalities by over 70 percent.
- The risk of injuries and fatalities is lowered by 50 percent for toddlers.
- Injuries to older children ages four to eight are reduced by over 40 percent with the use of booster seats compared to only using a seat belt.
- The risk of injury and death to older children is reduced by 50 percent when wearing a seat belt.
Unfortunately, the CDC discovered that not all child restraint support systems are being properly used in vehicles and that creates an additional problem – one that can actually cause a higher risk of harm to the children who are in them. According to another survey, over 70 percent of 3,500 car seat and booster seats were improperly used, with many linked to parents using the wrong support system in relation to their child’s size, weight, and age.
Using the correct car seat
You can greatly reduce the risk of severe or fatal injuries to your child by using the correct car seat, booster, or seat belt, if they have reached the age where they no longer fit in a child restraint support system. Still, below are some important tips from safety experts to remember:
- For infants, a rear-facing car seat should be used in the back of the vehicle until the child is at least 20 pounds and one year old.
- It is important to ensure the car seat is never in front of an airbag that can be activated in a crash, and it should remain in a back seat.
- Toys and accessories should not be attached to or in the car seat with an infant as they can become possible projectiles in the event of a quick stop or impact.
- For older children ages four to eight, a booster seat should be secured and fit properly in place with the use of a lap and shoulder belt.
- Even if your child is older, a booster seat may be necessary if he or she is small for their age and do not meet the height and weight requirements for seat belt use only.
Here is the Law
Texas law now requires drivers and all passengers in vehicles to be secured by a safety belt. A safety belt violation can result in fines ranging from $25 to $250, plus court costs. And, in many states, a vehicle operator may be stopped by law enforcement if his or her passengers are not wearing a seat belt or if children are not properly secured in a car seat or booster along with a seat belt.
Your child’s safety is in your hands
Seat belts have proven for years that they significantly decrease the possibility of death in an automobile accident. When it comes to child restraints and support systems, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the correct usage. If you still aren’t sure you have the right seat or are using it properly, contact the Texas Department of Transportation for more information.
Set the example
If the driver doesn’t use a seat belt, neither will his passengers. Furthermore, almost 40 percent of unrestrained drivers usually have their children unsecured as well. So, set the example and buckle up. Inform your passengers they can’t ride with you, if they don’t buckle up, too. And, be sure to do everything necessary to keep yourself, your kids, and your passengers safe.
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