86499187“Almost 90 people on average lose their lives each day – and more than 250 are injured every hour – due to drunk driving, not wearing a seatbelt, and the many other factors associated with traffic crashes.”

This is a quote from David Friedman, Deputy Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). While we know traffic crashes are a leading cause of death and injury for adults, you may find it surprising to learn that motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death among children ages 1 to 19. Perhaps the most shocking statistic for me: of children ages 8 and under who died in motor vehicle crashes in 2012, 31 percent were unrestrained. (1)

Proper safety seat and seat belt use is as important to safe driving as putting down your mobile device. According to the NHTSA: (2)

  • In 2012, the use of seat belts in passenger vehicles saved an estimated 12,174 lives.
  • Seat belts have saved nearly 63,000 lives during the 5-year period from 2008 to 2012.
  • An additional 3,031 lives would have been saved in 2012 if all unrestrained passenger vehicle occupants five and older involved in fatal crashes had worn their seat belts.

Securing children in car and booster seats or seat belts that are appropriate for their age and size can greatly reduce the risk of serious and fatal injuries. Here are some car safety seat guidelines courtesy of safekids.org:

  • 1 – 3 years of age: Keep your child rear facing as long as possible.
  • 4 – 7  years of age: Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness and tether until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer.
  • 8 and older: Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snugly across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face. Remember, your child should still ride in the back seat because it’s safer there.

Don’t make the “it won’t happen to me or mine” mistake. Use safety seats consistently and follow guidelines when considering when a child should be moved from one type of seat to another. Some other things to keep in mind:

  • Be careful about using an old or secondhand seat. The seats should conform to the same safety standards expected from a new seat.
  • Do some research before purchasing a seat. Read reviews about the product.
  • Make sure you install the seat correctly and take the time to be sure that everything is secure. Many fire stations will check your seat free of charge to make sure it is installed correctly. You can also refer to safercar.org for more information.

The world is in a hurry, but your destination can wait if it means saving a life. Babies and children are relying on you to make sure they are in the correct seat and buckled up safely. Don’t let them down!

(1) Motor Vehicle Safety Fact Sheet (2014). safekids.org. (updated February 2015)

(2) Traffic Safety Facts. nhtsa.gov. Nov 2013.


16 responses to “Holding On To Dear Life: Car Seat and Seat Belt Safety for Children”

  1. is it illegal for a small adult to ride in a booster seat if they meet the requirements? I’m 22 and 4’8 and under a 100 pounds.

    1. It’s not illegal, but not needed either. You have adult bones that can withstand an accident.

      1. Yes, but even with the seatbelt at the lowest setting it runs across my neck and in my co-workers Tahoe, my feet don’t touch the ground.

      2. You might benefit from a booster then. I would look at the bubble bum. It’s an inflatable booster so it would be easy to take with you. It also passes federal testing DEflated as well as inflated.

      3. I think that would be better than the britax frontier and Costco one I have tried. Got to say I like the back support though.

      4. Yeah. I can see that. Just make sure you have the head rest up high enough to give you protection to the tops of your ears(saw your blog post and the head rest was at your shoulders).

      5. I uploaded a pic with the head rest up on the post week one challenge. With the head rest all the way up my head sits a little below the middle. That’s good right?

      6. Yeah. You want the shoulder belt flat against the chest(not floating in front of you or across the neck) and above the shoulder and the lap belt low on the lap/across the thighs. Do you know if the boosters you are using require a headrest behind them? Some do and some don’t. I saw the car you ride in doesn’t appear to have headrests in the seat you’re in. Look up on google “proper booster fit” and you should be able to find a graphic.

      7. You are amazing! I will for sure. Where my head was positioned in the photo is OK though? Stretching my neck up as far as I can and my ears don’t go past the top of the seat.

      8. As long as the belt guide is at or above your shoulder, then you look good. You said you have a britax frontier(the seat that comes with a harness or just a booster?) And a graco turbobooster? Neither required a headrest behind them. But, also, if there isn’t a headrest, you cannot safely use a backless booster because everyone needs protection to the tops of the ears to reduce head excursion in an accident.

      9. Awesome! So I’m good to go?

      10. Yepyep.

  2. I doubt that it is illegal, but you should check with your state’s laws to be safe. The manufacturer of the booster seat would also be a great place to check.

  3. I have been doing some research and some suggestions that I have noted include: make sure that you adjust your seat and mirrors (up or down, forward or back) to fit you the best that you can. Next time you are looking to purchase a vehicle, do some research concerning what adjustments that can be made to provide you with a better fit. You might try contacting the manufacturer of your vehicle and see what suggestions that they have concerning the difficulites that you are facing. It is very important to buckle up properly. The thing that I would caution you about adding a booster seat as a driver would be that it may add enough height to your sitting position that it causes you to have a harder time reaching the pedals or delayed action when needing to make adjustments to the vehicle’s speed or position.

    1. I don’t use the booster seat for driving. Well backseat driving lol. With the regular seat all the way up so the seatbelt fits, my feet don’t touch the ground and the belt still as at neck level. I’ve found that as a adult using a booster seat that the belt fits properly now. Which is safer for me.

  4. I don’t use the booster seat for driving. Unless you count back seat driver. I carpool with my best friend and in her Tahoe my feet don’t touch the ground if the seats are up. Even still, the seatbelt on the lowest setting ruins across my neck. With the booster though, the seatbelt runs across my chest and lap rather than neck and stomach.

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