Child Passenger Safety and Seatbelts

LIBERTY, March 20, 2018 - Nationally, traffic collisions are the leading cause of death among children ages 5 to 14 and the results are staggering; more than 500 are killed and 95,000 are injured annually. Many of these deaths and injuries could have been prevented if the children were properly restrained in seat belts or child safety seats. When children outgrow forward-facing child safety seats, they need to be restrained in belt-positioning booster seats until they are big enough to fit properly in an adult seat belt.

Things to remember when transporting children or using child safety/booster seats in a vehicle:

  • All children ages 12 and under should sit in the back seat properly restrained. The rear seat is the safest place for children.
  • Never use pillows, books, or towels to boost the height of a child. They can slide around and increase the likelihood of injury.
  • Make sure everyone is buckled up correctly. Infants and very young children should be in child safety seats. Young children should be correctly buckled using a booster seat.
  • Read the instructions for the child safety or booster seat and your vehicle owner’s manual before installation. If the vehicle has only lap belts in the back seat, consider having shoulder belts installed by a dealer or repair facility. Most vehicle manufacturers offer retrofit shoulder belt kits for this purpose.
  • After installing a child safety or booster seat, do not forget to test for a snug and secure fit. Properly fitting lap and shoulder belts reduce the risk for belt-induced injuries, which can occur when lap or lap/shoulder belts are a small child’s only restraint.
  • Always fill out and mail the registration card that comes with the safety/booster seat so notifications can be made in case of a recall.

In 2016, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) introduced a Child Passenger Safety National Best Practice Recommendation list with four phases. Texas law doesn’t require parents to practice everything on this recommendations list, but authorities urge all parents to take these recommendations seriously to prevent spinal cord injuries and death. The new law is meant to close the safety gap for children who have outgrown infant car seats, but are not big enough to be protected by adult safety belts. Booster seats are required by law to comply with the same standards and guidelines as child safety seats. When buying a booster seat, make sure it has a label stating the child restraint system conforms to all applicable United States Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Never use a booster seat that has been in a crash. The seat may have defects that are not visible.

 
 
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