The car seat safety guidelines are constantly updating with more research and development for the safety of your little ones. In the state of Georgia, the car seat laws are limited, stating children under eight years of age must ride backseat (as long as a lap and shoulder belt is available) in an approved child restraint system appropriate of the child’s height and weight, and the seat must be approved by the U.S. government. It is critical parents understand while the law is important to avoid a ticket, the law doesn’t follow current guidelines for best practices of car seat safety, set in place by American Academy of Pediatrics. According to the AAP:
- All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car seat as long as possible until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the seat’s manufacturer (usually 40+ lbs) Note: Infant bucket car seats usually don’t accommodate children for the extent of time they are able to rear-face, as they lack adjustable recline and head support.
- All children who have outgrown the rear-facing weight or height limit should use a forward-facing car safety seat with a harness for as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by the seat’s manufacturer (Oftentimes at least 65 lbs, 49 inches)
- All children whose weight or height is above the forward-facing limit should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly, typically when they have reached 4 feet 9 inches in height and are between 8 and 12 years old.
- All children younger than 13 years should be restrained in the rear seats of vehicles for optimal protection.
You may be questioning these guidelines or calling them harsh, you may even be thinking “I survived without a car seat.” Well, consider this: Car crashes are the leading cause of death of children in America. However, the rate of motor vehicle crash deaths per million children younger than 13 has decreased 78 percent overall since 1975*. The declining rate is a direct result of improved car seat safety. You may have survived without a car seat, but those who didn’t aren’t able to talk about it. If you could save your child from a traumatic injury or possible death by keeping them in a car seat longer, why wouldn’t you?
To learn more about car seat safety, visit SafeKidsGeorgia.org.
*Rate provided by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety
Did you know: Studies have shown that the majority of car seats are installed incorrectly. Common mistakes include the car seat LATCH or belt being too loose, the car seat being at the wrong angle, incorrect chest clip placement, incorrect harness slot placement, not using a tether anchor, twisted straps or incorrect child positioning. Car seats can be difficult to install and each has their own set of instructions and guidelines for use. Plus, you must consider your vehicle’s individual requirements for LATCH or belt usage.
If you’re not sure if your car seat is installed correctly, call Safe Kids Columbus for a free inspection at (706) 321-6720 or visit their website at www.safekidscolumbusga.org.