A lot has changed since we were buckling up our own children. Advancements in research, technology, safety standards, state laws and child safety seats help children ride safer in motor vehicles now than in the past.
As grandparents, it is important to know what’s new when it comes to transporting our grandchildren. Here are some things you will want to know to ensure your grandchildren are riding safely.
Child passengers must ride in a properly used child restraint until they are 8 years old. Children 8-16 years must ride in a properly used child restraint or safety belt.
Information about child passenger laws in other states can be found at www.iihs.org/laws/safetybeltuse.aspx.
Kids In The Back
Air bag related deaths and injuries have brought attention to the importance of kids riding in the back seat. Children under the age of 13 should ride in the back seat. The back seat is safer even if you don’t have air bags.
New research shows that children are 5 times safer in their second year of life when they ride facing the back of the vehicle. Many rear-facing child safety seats now have maximum weight limits as high as 35-45 pounds. Using one of these seats will keep your grandchildren rear-facing longer.
New Child Safety Seats
The current generation of child safety seats have been crash tested to meet stricter safety standards to offer more protection than earlier models. Buyers can choose from a wide variety of styles with kid-friendly features, such as cup holders.
Normal effects of aging; however, may make the seats a little harder for grandparents to use. It’s a good idea to check out a seat before you buy it. Ask yourself some of these questions:
- Is the seat easy to lift and handle?
- Is it easy to buckle?
- Are there helpful labels or markings on the seat to help remind me how to use it?
- Is the print in the instruction manual easy to read?
If both your vehicle and child safety seat were made after September 1, 2002, you may be able to install your child safety seat without a seat belt. LATCH is a system that makes it possible to install your child safety seat by connecting lower anchors on the seat to rigid bars located in the crease of your vehicle seat. Forward-facing seats also need to use the top tether. Some people find this system easier to use than a seat belt.
Even if your car doesn’t have lower anchors, check to see if you have top tether anchors. Using a top tether in addition to a seat belt on a forward-facing seat can help keep the seat and child from moving forward up to 4-6 inches in a crash.
In the past, children outgrew their child safety seats then “graduated” to adult seat belts. Now we know that adult seat belts don’t fit young children properly and can cause abdominal and spinal cord injuries in a crash. Booster seats lift children up so the lap/shoulder belt fits properly; low on the hips and across the middle of the shoulder and chest. Typically, a child isn’t big enough to use an adult seat belt until they are between 8-12 years old and about 4’9” tall.
There are now educational services called Permanent Fitting Stations or Child Safety Seat Inspection Stations where you can make an appointment to get help with your grandchild’s child safety seat.
Trained staff will work with you to learn how to properly position your grandchild in the seat and how to install it in your vehicle for free. Call 1-800-KID-N-CAR or click here for a location near you.