Each year thousands of children are killed or seriously injured in automobile accidents. Many could be saved by practicing simple safety precautions such as using a seatbelt.
New, young drivers cause a great many of these kinds of accidents because they have not yet learned to properly handle a motor vehicle and they drive at speeds too fast for the conditions around them. Here are some of the simple safety precautions that children should be aware of:
National Safety Belt Coalition
The National Safety Council's National Safety Belt Coalition is a network of organizations and individuals that promote the lifesaving benefits of correctly used safety belts and child safety seats.
The National Safety Belt Coalition serves as a clearinghouse of information and materials, providing support and assistance in implementing highway safety programs as well as useful materials, ideas, speakers and technical assistance.
Quick Safety Seat Checkup Tips
Does your child ride in the back seat?
The back seat is generally the safest place in a crash. If your vehicle has a passenger air bag, it is essential for children 12 and under to ride in back.
Does your child ride facing the right way?
Infants should ride in rear facing restraints (in the back seat) until age 1 and at least 20-22 lbs. Infants who weigh 20 lbs. before 1 year of age should ride in a restraint approved for higher rear facing weights. Always read your child restraint manual for instructions on properly using the restraint. Children over age one and at least 20 pounds may ride facing forward.
Does the safety belt hold the seat tightly in place?
Put the belt through the correct slots. If your safety seat can be used facing either way, use the correct belt path for each direction. Check the vehicle owner's manual and safety seat instruction book for guidance.
Is the harness buckled snugly around your child?
Keep harness straps snug over the child's shoulders. Place the chest clip at armpit level.
Does your child over 40 pounds have the best protection possible?
Keep your child in a safety seat with a full harness as long as possible, at least until 40 pounds. Then use a belt-positioning booster seat which helps the adult lap and shoulder belt fit better. A belt-positioning booster seat is preferred for children between 40-80 pounds. It is used with the adult lap and shoulder belt.
How should a safety belt fit an older child?
The child should be tall enough to sit without slouching, with knees bent at the edge of the seat, with feet on the floor. The lap belt must fit low and tight across the upper thighs.
The shoulder belt should rest over the shoulder and across the chest. Never put the shoulder belt under the arm or behind the child's back.
The adult lap and shoulder belt system alone will not fit most children until they are at least 4'9" tall and weigh about 80 pounds.