Most parents know that infants and small children need to be in car seats while traveling in a car. But the use of car seats and other safety restraints isn’t as clear once the children become older. Parents have many questions regarding the use of car seats such as: How long should a child use a car seat in the car? What type of car seat is best? And at what age is an adult seat belt enough to secure the child?
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, car accidents are one of the primary causes of death and serious injury for children between the ages of 1 and 13. The proper use of car seats, boosters, and seat belts, however, can greatly minimize the risk of injury or fatality in an auto accident. The general rule is that children between the ages of 8 and 12 can transition to an adult seat belt, depending on their size. Children ages 12 and under should always sit in the backseat of a vehicle.
In order to determine whether your child is big enough to use an adult seat belt, review these factors:
- Is your child tall enough to sit in the seat without slouching?
- Is your child able to keep his feet flat on the floor?
- Do your child’s knees naturally bend over the edge of the vehicle seat?
If the answers to these questions are yes, your child may be ready to use an adult seat belt. However, it is also important to analyze the seat belt fit in relation to your child. Review the seat belt fit for each different vehicle as seat belts can fit differently in different cars. Your child can use an adult seat belt alone if:
- The shoulder belt does not cross the neck or chest and lies snugly across your child’s chest and shoulders; and
- The lap belt crosses snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach.
If the seat belt does not fit properly as directed above, your child should use a booster seat to raise the seating height so the adult belt fits properly. In addition, your child may need to use a booster seat in some cars and not in others. Finally, make sure that your child is sitting up in the seat and using the seat belt correctly. Putting a shoulder belt under an arm or behind the back can cause serious injuries in an auto accident.
Following these safety tips will help to keep your children safe while in the car. If you or a member of your family has been severely injured or killed in an auto accident, contact Alexander Law Group, LLC. Our exceptional personal injury lawyers will be sure you get the maximum compensation possible. Call 888.777.1776, or contact us online.