Is Your Child’s Car Seat or Booster Installed Correctly?

Texas Car Accident Lawyer | Child Safety Car Seats & Boosters

Did you know car accidents are a leading cause of childhood death?

In fact, during 2019 alone, 608 children died tragically while riding in cars, SUVs, pickups, and vans– an average of two per day. According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an estimated 374 child passengers were injured every day that year.

Texas actually leads the nation in child car accident deaths, with 146 fatalities reported in 2019.

Child Safety Seats Substantially Reduce Risk of Death in a Crash

Nationwide, 38% of the kids who died in 2019 were riding in passenger vehicles unrestrained.

Using a child safety seat reduces the risk of death in a crash by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers. However, while it’s believed that more than half of all car seats are installed incorrectly, only 20% of parents and caregivers request help in learning how to install or secure a child in a car seat.

To mark the beginning of National Child Passenger Safety Week (September 19th through September 29th), the NHTSA urges parents and caregivers to take responsibility and ensure all kids are safe and secure while riding in a car or other passenger vehicle.

Selecting the Right Car Seat for Your Child

That responsibility begins with selecting the right car seat. Depending on your child’s age and weight, they might require:

Rear-Facing Car Seat

These are the best seats for young children. A rear-facing seat has a harness and, in a crash, cradles and moves with the child to reduce stress on their fragile neck and spinal cord.

  • Infant Car Seat: These are designed for infants and are rear-facing only. Most kids will have outgrown an infant seat by their first birthday.
  • Convertible Seat: As a child grows, this seat can change from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat with a harness and tether. It allows kids to stay in the rear-facing position longer.
  • All-in-One Seat: This seat can change from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat (with a harness and tether) and then to a booster seat as a child grows. This seat accommodates kids of varying weights and sizes, allowing them to stay in the rear-facing position as long as possible.

Forward-Facing Car Seat

A forward-facing car seat has a harness and tether that limits a child’s forward movement during a crash:

  • Convertible Seat: As a child grows, this forward-facing seat can change from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat with a harness and tether.
  • Combination Seat: This seat transitions from a forward-facing seat with a harness and tether into a booster as a child grows.
  • All-in-One Seat: This seat can change from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat (with a harness and tether) and then to a booster seat as a child grows.

Booster Seat

A booster seat raises and positions a child so the vehicle’s lap-and-shoulder seatbelt fits properly across the hips and chest.

  • Booster Seat with High Back: This booster seat is designed to boost the child’s height, so the seat belt fits properly. It also provides neck and head support and is ideal for vehicles that don’t have headrests or high seat backs.
  • Backless Booster Seat: A backless booster seat is designed to boost the child’s height, so the seat belt fits properly. It does not provide head and neck support. It is ideal for vehicles that have headrests.
  • Combination Seat: As a child grows, this seat transitions from a forward-facing seat with a harness into a booster.
  • All-in-One Seat: This seat can change from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat (with a harness and tether) and then to a booster seat as a child grows.

The NHTSA recommends rear-facing car seats for children up to three years of age. Kids can remain in a forward-facing car seat up until the age of seven. In most cases, booster seats are appropriate up until the age of 12 or 13, depending on a child’s size and weight.

Texas law requires that all children younger than eight years old – unless they are more than 4 feet 9 inches tall – be secured in a child safety seat whenever they ride in a vehicle. Older children who have outgrown a booster seat must be buckled with a seat belt. Failure to properly restrain a child can result in a ticket of up to $250.

Properly Installing a Child Safety Seat

Once you’ve selected a car seat or booster, it’s also an excellent idea to Register your seat and sign up to receive NHTSA recall notices and safety updates.

It’s also important to understand that even the most well-designed car seat or booster won’t keep your child safe if it’s not used correctly. And as any parent and caregiver will probably tell you, installing a child safety seat is anything but straightforward. To avoid confusion and frustration, it’s advised that you:

You might also want to check out Car Seat Basics, a free online course for parents and caregivers. Participants can complete the entire training or select a module on a specific stage of child passenger safety.

Children 12 and younger should always ride in the back seat. If they no longer require a safety seat or booster, it’s imperative that they – and anyone else in the vehicle – use their seat belt correctly. A properly fitting seat belt means:

  • The shoulder belt lies snugly across the shoulder and chest, not crossing the neck or face.
  • The lap belt lies snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach.

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If your child was hurt or tragically killed in connection with a car or truck accident, please call 1-888-603-3636, use the “chat” button on our homepage, or click here to send us a confidential email through our “Contact Us” form.

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