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  • Driving for Life - Driving with Small Children

Driving for Life - Driving with Small Children Car Seats and Boosters
If you have small children in the car, you will need to use safety seats, which are required by law.

Each year thousands of young children are killed or injured in car crashes. You can help keep this from happening to your child by using car safety seats and seat belts correctly on every single trip you take. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics indicate that child safety seats reduce the risk of death almost 70 percent in babies and almost 50 percent in kids between the ages of one and four.

To help safeguard your children, make sure that:
  • Kids 12-years-old and under always ride in the back seat. If possible, put them in the center seat -- it's the safest in the event of a crash.
  • You use a seat that is appropriate for the child's size, weight and age.
  • According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, infant-only car seats should be used for babies only until they are one year old and weigh at least 20 lbs. The Canadian Safety Council (www.safety-council.org) recommends using these seats until a child is 22 lbs. (10 kg.).
  • Booster seats are for older children -- typically those over age four that weigh more than 40 pounds. (18 kg).
  • A child may graduate to a vehicle's regular restraint system when he or she is big enough for the belts to fit properly. (According to the NHTSA and the Canadian Safety Council, this would be when the child is 4 ft. 9 in.[1.45 m] or 80 lbs. [36 kg, or eight years of age.)
  • Note: Some states have very specific laws regarding when children no longer need to use a child seat. At a minimum, always act in accordance with those laws.
  • Make sure the safety seat is properly installed. Always follow the manufacturer's installation guide and re-check your installation regularly. Local authorities often host car-seat inspections at firehouses and police stations. Taking advantage of them is always a good idea.
  • Don't buy a used car seat. Ever.
  • Never, ever carry a child in your lap while you ride in a car or allow a child to ride unrestrained in a car.
Since 2002, manufacturers have incorporated a new, easy-to-use car seat design, named LATCH (lower anchors and tethers for children), which uses built-in anchors rather than seatbelts to secure the seats. LATCH is another good reason never to buy a used car seat.

While there are numerous car safety seats on the market, none of them can be categorized as safest. The best choice for your child is the one that fits his or her size and weight and is installed correctly. To help you compare seats, the American Academy of Pediatrics offers an excellent guide at www.aap.org/family/carseatguide.htm.
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