Parents are often concerned about car seats and automobile safety for their infants. Unfortunately, as children get older parents often fail to realize that they should remain in a safety seat. The most common cause of death in adolescents ages one to 13 is that of automobile wrecks. For this reason, it is important that parents and guardians know the correct safety seat for their child according to their age, weight, and other factors.
Many times the lack of booster seats for children is due to their being so many different models and types of seats, causing confusion for parents. On July 1, 2011, it became a requirement in Georgia that children under the age of eight use safety or booster seats while in automobiles. These seats must be appropriate for their size and used correctly according to instructions from the manufacturer.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rates booster seats and provides insight for parents on the best types and methods of using these safety seats. The purpose of booster seats is to allow proper placement of both shoulder and lap seatbelts. The appropriate location for a lap belt is to lie even across one’s upper thighs, instead of the abdomen. Shoulder seatbelts should cross over the middle of one’s shoulder comfortably. The IIHS rating categories for booster seats include “Best Bets”, Good Bets”, “Not Recommended”, and “Check fit”. The first, “Best Bet”, rating identifies safety seats that fit most any child from the age of four to eight. The next, “Good Bet”, rating identifies seats that offer satisfactory fit in most automobiles. The other two are self-explanatory. “Not recommended” means that the IIHS suggests finding an alternate safety seat for your child. “Check fit” simply means the results of testing have varied greatly depending on the size of a child and the vehicle.
In addition to using the appropriate size booster seat for your child, it is also important to install the seat correctly. All manufacturers’ instructions should be followed closely. Children should always ride in the backseat of vehicles, with or without safety seats, at least until they turn 12 years old.
In regards to age, it is suggested that children 12 months and younger ride in a car seat that faces the rear. From one to three years old, it is ok to move the child into a forward-facing car seat once they can no longer fit into a rear-facing seat. Try to keep them in a rear-facing car seat as long as possible, though. Children four to seven years old should be strapped into a forward-facing safety seat with a harness. Once they reach the weight limit allowed by the seat, they can use a booster seat. From eight to 12, children should remain in a booster seat until they can correctly fit into a seat belt.
At Jones & Swanson, our attorneys specialize in representing victims of Georgia automobile crashes. We often take calls from people who had children in their vehicles at the time of a crash. Safety seats are important in keeping those children safe. For more information on child safety seat requirements and suggestions, contact our car crash attorneys today at (770) 427-5498 or visit www.iihs.org.