Car Seat Safety: Why the Law Isn’t Always Enough
Car seats and booster seats have been around for a long time, but studies continue to change the public’s perception of how they should be used to more effectively protect children. One Tampa auto accident lawyer reminds us that, as technology has advanced, there are many more distractions to drivers leading to an increase in car accidents. Taking the extra care to make sure that your child’s booster seat is being used correctly could be the difference in life and death.
For example, it is commonly believed that car seats should be rear facing until a child reaches the age of one, but research indicates that you can provide your child with a safer drive by keeping their seat rear facing for as long as possible. In many cases, this means that a toddler’s seat can be rear facing until the age of two or three, and this will provide them with a much higher level of protection during a crash.
How do I know if I am Using the Car Seat Correctly?
Aside from following the law, it is also imperative to ensure that you are using the car seat properly. Although each seat comes with instructions from the manufacturer, it can be easy to lose them or forget a key step, especially as your child becomes older. However, you can visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s page on child safety to get tips on the proper usage of car and booster seats, and you will also learn valuable information that can help you decide when to remove all of these seats from your vehicle.
How does State Law Compare to Safety Reports?
You are required to follow the minimum safety guidelines that have been put in place in any state that you drive through. However, these laws often fall far short of the safety recommendations that have been made by several organizations. For example, Florida state law enables parents to stop using car boosters once their child reaches the age of six, but the size of most children makes it important for them to be in a booster seat until they are at least 10 years old.
In fact, a study that was conducted from the data of more than 48,000 car crashes indicates that children who are in a booster seat between the ages of four and seven have a 59 percent better chance of avoiding an injury during an accident.
When Should I Remove the Booster Seat?
Regardless of the age that is recommended by your state or the latest study, it is important to pay close attention to the way your child sits in the car without a booster seat. After all, if they are too short for the seat belt to fit them properly, they should be using a booster seat. Most studies indicate that a child should be at least 4’9″ before the booster seat is removed, but it may be impractical to try to enforce this if your child is naturally very short because teenagers are not going to feel comfortable with the idea of remaining in a booster seat.
Ultimately, it is up to each parent to decide how long to extend the usage of booster seats once they have satisfied their state’s legal requirements. However, the longer you keep the booster seat in your car, the more likely your child will be to survive their childhood without sustaining a serious injury from a traffic accident.
Melanie Fleury is the mother of 4 children and frequently checks and rechecks their car seats for safety. Williams Law Association, a Tampa auto accident lawyer, helps those who are injured in auto accidents. With all the distractions that drivers now face, make sure to take the extra precautions to keep your family safe.
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/joeshlabotnik/3334067751/
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