Earlier this month, a Utah baby named Lily survived a crash in which the car she was riding in struck a bridge abutment and ended up partially submerged in a river. Fourteen hours later, rescuers found the 18-month-old toddler strapped in her child safety seat, which held her above the frigid river waters and almost certainly saved her life, according to a CNN report.
Accident statistics are clear: Child safety seats cut the risk of fatal injuries to infants by 71 percent and toddlers by 54 percent in car crashes, according to the Georgia Traffic Injury Prevention Institute.
Yet, too many people either don’t strap their children into vehicles before making a trip or they place them improperly in child seats.
For example, 14 children ages four and under were killed in auto accidents in 2014, but only six of them were restrained in a child safety seat, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Four of them were unrestrained, and in four cases, authorities didn’t know whether they were restrained.
Many collision injuries are preventable if a child is properly fastened into a child safety seat. There is no excuse for not buckling a child properly into a restraint seat to make sure they are protected as much as possible in a crash.
Georgia Booster Seat Law
Georgia lawmakers took a giant step forward in protecting child passengers by enacting “Madison’s Law,” requiring that all children ride in child safety seats until age six, according to the Georgia Traffic Injury Prevention Institute. The act was named for Madison Harty, a child who survived a terrible crash when an SUV hit her family’s minivan and ripped off the side where she sat. First responders said the booster seat saved her life.
In 2011, lawmakers strengthened Georgia’s child passenger safety laws, raising the age limit for children to be restrained in a child seat or booster suitable to their height and weight to eight years old. Children under eight also are required to ride in the rear seat.
Exemptions are allowed for licensed child care providers that transport children between four and eight in buses operated by a licensed or commissioned facility. School buses and multifunction school activity buses are exempt as well because they are required to meet strict federal rules for carrying children.
Children over four feet nine inches can use adult safety belts rather than booster seats, and children under eight can be exempt if a physician provides a written statement showing a medical or physical condition prevents them from using a seat. Parents should be aware, however, of the potential for injuries from airbags if children ride in a front seat.
Car Seat Tips
- Putting your child in a car seat or booster that fits their size and age is a crucial factor in protecting them from injury in an accident.
- Make sure the seat your child uses fits your vehicle. Test it out before you buy it.
- Ensure the car seat can be placed in the car and used correctly each time your child rides.
Car Seat Types
- Rear-facing seats: These are best for young children. They come with a harness and cradle and shift with the child to cut down impact on the child’s neck and spine in case of a crash.
- Infant car seats are rear-facing and designed for newborns and little babies. They are small and portable, and typically children outgrow them after eight or nine months.
- Convertible seats can be switched from rear-facing to forward-facing to suit the needs of growing toddlers. They are equipped with a harness and tether to limit your child’s forward movement in a wreck.
- All-in-one seats can transition from rear-facing to forward-facing and then be used as a booster seat when the child gets bigger.
- Forward-facing seats are used when your child outgrows the rear-facing position. Typically, the convertible seat, a combination seat or all-in-one seat are good choices for parents.
Booster seats are used once the child outgrows the child restraint seat. They are positioned so seat belts fit over the strongest parts of the child’s body. They include:
- High-back booster seats: These are designed to make the child sit higher so the seat belt fits properly while providing neck and head support.
- Backless booster seats: This type is made to boost the child so safety belts fit properly, but it offers no head or neck support and works best in cars with head rests.
- Combination seats and all-in-one seats: These can be transformed into booster seats.
Regardless of what type of seat you choose, it should fit the child’s size and age and must be properly installed. Follow the manufacturer’s directions and make sure it is placed properly in the vehicle each time your child gets in.
When your child wears a seat belt, whether in a booster seat or not, the belt should go across the upper thighs and across the shoulder and chest. Belts shouldn’t rest on your child’s stomach or go across the neck or face and do not put them under the child’s arm.
Don’t Ride Unbelted
Protecting your children is one of a parent’s greatest responsibilities. Failure to do so could lead to serious injuries and even death. It could also cause a lifetime of anguish and hurt. Take the proper steps today and purchase a seat that fits your child. Then, please learn how to use it correctly.