Green Means Go: Safety for Kids in Cars

Preventing Child Injuries During Car Collisions

As a parent, one of your top priorities is keeping your child safe. When you’re on the road, you’re not always in control of everything going on around you, but you do have control over how to keep your child out of harm’s way.

While safety seats may not be a child’s best friend, they are one of the most important tools out there. 

But child safety precautions change as a child grows, and it can be hard to keep up with what your child needs.

We understand how important it is that your child is protected in the case of an accident, which is why we wrote this guide for child safety.

An Overview

Unfortunately, motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of childhood death in the US. But there’s so much that we can do to prevent this from happening.

Child restraint systems, including seatbelts and safety seats, should be on every parent’s radar.

Car seat use reduces the risk of injury by 71 to 82% for children, when compared to using seat belts alone.

It doesn’t just matter that you use a car seat. It also matters that you use it correctly.

According to a study sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 72.6% of child safety restraints are misused.

If you’re not sure whether you’ve installed your car seat correctly, take a second look at the manufacturer’s instructions and check out this guide on how to buckle your child in.

Remember that children often mimic what they see adults do. When an adult is wearing a seatbelt, kids are buckled in 94% of the time. When adults are not wearing their belts, kids are only buckled 40% of the time.

When you teach your child to use a seat belt, make sure that they wear both the shoulder and lap part for the best results.

Children twelve years and younger should not be seated in the front passenger seat. If you have no other option but to let them sit there, be sure to move their seat as far back as it can go to minimize the risk of airbag-related injuries.

And, of course, the safest place in your car is the back, center seat. 

The Laws

Child safety laws regarding car seats and seat belts differ for every state. This, of course, applies to the DMV area as well.

DC

In the nation’s capital:

  • Everyone under the age of 16 should be secured in the vehicle using either a car seat or a seatbelt.
  • Children under 8 years of age should be using an infant car seat, convertible car seat, or a booster seat which uses both the lap and shoulder portion of the seatbelt.

Maryland

In Maryland, the law requires:

  • Children younger than sixteen should always be secured using a car seat or seat belt. 
  • Children 8 years and younger must use a car seat per the manufacturer’s recommendations unless that child is at least 4ft 9.

Virginia

In Virginia, the laws are more specific. This state requires:

  • For infants 1-year-old and younger, a rear-facing car seat in the back of the vehicle
  • Forward-facing car seats or booster seats for children younger than 8, according to weight and height restrictions set by the manufacturer
  • Seatbelts for children 8 to 18 years old

They also mandate that in vehicles without a backseat, the airbag must be deactivated before you can place a car seat in the front passenger seat.

Now that you know the laws, it’s time to get into the different types of child restraint systems.

Child Safety Seats

There are a few different types of child safety seats, each designed for a specific height, weight, and age restriction.

When a child outgrows their car seat, some parents will simply restrain them with the adult safety belt. However, they are not old enough or big enough for it in most cases.

Rear-facing infant seats

From the day you bring your baby home from the hospital, until the day they grow out of it, young children should be secured in a rear-facing infant seat.

These seats:

  • Are meant for infants up to the age of 2 years old, or until they reach the height and weight recommendations of the manufacturer
  • Ensure infants have proper head and neck support

Children usually weigh between 22 to 35 lbs before they outgrow this seat.

Convertible Safety Seats

Once your child outgrows their infant seat, it’s time to move them to a convertible safety seat for an extra boost of security. These:

  • Can face forward or backward
  • Are meant for children 2 to 4 years old
  • Are meant for children who weigh between 20 to 40 lbs

While many children are ready to move on to another seat by the time they’re 4 years old, you should keep your child in their convertible safety seat until they grow out of it. Pay more attention to their height and weight than their age with this one.

Booster Seats

It’s vital that children don’t start using a booster seat until they weigh enough and are tall enough for it. This seat is designed to prop them up so that the adult seatbelt is lined up correctly with their shoulders, chests, and laps.

Booster seats:

  • Are meant for children 4 to 8 years old
  • Are meant for children shorter than 4ft 9
  • Protect children from injuries to the intestines, spleen, liver, and spinal cord

Once children are taller than 4ft 9, which usually happens around 8 years old, they’re ready to lose the booster seat. But until then, they should be using a child restraint system.

Making Safety a Priority

Children require a little more protection to prevent injuries in the unfortunate case of a car accident. By following these precautions, you provide them with the best form of protection out there.

At Geyer’s Towing, we care about safety. If you ever need assistance, we’ll be there to get you back on the road as swiftly as possible.

Call us today, and we’ll tell you more about the services we offer and our commitment to helping our customers stay safe on the road.

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