Child safety in the car is an important issue that can prevent not only injuries but save lives, too. According to Safe Kids USA, the leading cause of death in children between the ages of three and fourteen is motor vehicle accidents.
Make sure you’re following all child car seat requirements for child passenger safety, and if you or your child is injured in an accident caused by another driver, talk to a car accident attorney in Long Island about pursuing an injury claim. If the car seat was defective, liability may lie with a manufacturer.
Child Passenger Safety Laws
Although all states require child safety seats in cars, the laws may vary from one state to another. The criteria for some states are based on age and for other states it’s based on height and weight. For instance, in Oklahoma child safety seats are only required for children under the age of five.
In New York, a federally-approved child seat is required for children under the age of three. A booster seat can be used for children who weigh more than 40 lbs. and children between the ages of four and seven. However, they must still meet the car seat manufacturer’s height and weight recommendations.
New York also requires that a child safety seat be used until children reach their eighth birthday. Children that weigh more than 100 lbs. or are four feet nine inches tall can use an adult seatbelt. It is recommended that children eight years old, despite legally being allowed to use an adult seat belt, continue to use a booster seat if they don’t meet the weight (100 lbs. and over) and height (4’9”) requirements.
The New York Department of Motor Vehicles recommends that children under the age of 12 don’t sit in the front seat where there is an airbag. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendations are that children under the age of 13 ride in the back to promote child safety in the car.
Tips on Choosing the Right Child Safety Car Seat
Safe Kids USA reports that the risk of sustaining fatal injuries is reduced by as much as 71 percent when children are not only placed in appropriate car seats but in one that is properly installed and used. This is critical because more than half of the fatal accidents are caused by incorrect use or installation.
The following are recommendations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) when it comes to choosing a car seat for certain age groups:
- birth to 12 months old – seats should be rear-facing;
- one to three years old – once rear-facing seat is outgrown, should be placed in a forward-facing seat with harness;
- four to seven years old – once forward-facing seat is outgrown, booster seat can be used (should be kept in the backseat); and
- eight to 12 years old – remain in booster seat until properly fits into a seatbelt (shoulder belt snug across shoulder and chest, lap belt snug across upper thighs).
No matter which seat applies to the child, it should be used as long as possible for child passenger safety. This reduces the chance of moving the child up to a seat in which he or she doesn’t properly fit. It’s also important to check the manufacturer’s manual on height and weight limits.
What to Do With a Child Safety Car Seat after a Crash
If a child is involved in a motor vehicle accident, it is recommended by the NHTSA that the car seat be replaced when the crash was moderate or severe. This isn’t necessary when the accident was minor.
A minor accident would be one where the vehicle is drivable, door closest to child seat isn’t damaged, there were no injuries, air bags didn’t deploy and car seat has no damage. When any one of these factors has occurred, the seat should always be replaced to ensure the child’s safety in the future.
A car accident attorney in Long Island can provide legal consultation regarding your options if you’ve been involved in an auto accident in which a child has been injured despite your efforts to keep the child safe in the car with a proper car seat.