You’ve heard the stories from your parents. When they went on car rides with their parents, they would sit on their mothers’ laps or crawl around in the back seat while their fathers drove to the store. On long car trips, they would get comfy in sleeping bags in the way back of the station wagon—not a seat belt in sight.
Today, however, you can’t even leave the hospital without a proper car seat and, by law, your nine-year-old has to be buckled into a booster seat at all times. Why the change?
Your parents and grandparents managed to survive without the need of pricey car seats, why should you be forced to spend hundreds of dollars on a seat that your child will outgrow in two years? Do they really make that much of a difference in your child’s safety?
Facts About Car Seat Safety
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 33% of children killed in car accidents in 2011 were not properly restrained. Further CDC statistics state that an annual average of 600,000 children ride in a car without being buckled or restrained. Not only is this illegal, but it is highly dangerous.
However, with proper restraint, these injury rates could be drastically reduced. It is because of the success of proper restraint in preventing injury and death in children that all 50 states now have laws requiring children to be secured in some type of car seat (depending on age, weight, and height).
Although car seats can be pricey, the support, restraint and security they provide is priceless. Not only do they save lives but they provide the following protections from injury:
- Restraint. Harnesses and tethers keep impact forces from catapulting your child from his seat. A properly-fitted car seat ensures that those harnesses are positioned correctly on the child’s body so that they are not injured by the belt itself.
- Head support. Even small impacts can cause a lot of vibration and shaking of a vehicle. If your child’s head isn’t properly supported, those vibrations could cause head or neck trauma.
- Body Support. Car seats provide extra protection for your baby’s neck and spine by supporting his entire back. Rear-facing car seats also allow force to be absorbed by the seat, pushing your baby further into the comfort and support of the seat itself, rather than exerting that force into dangerously throwing your baby forward.
- Seatbelt injury protection. If your child is too short to properly wear a seatbelt, a booster seat will elevate him so that the belt will lie over the strongest parts of his body (collarbone and pelvis). This way, if an accident occurs, the belt will not cause serious damage to his neck, abdomen, or chest.
Choosing the right car seat can be confusing and expensive, especially since you may need to buy a new one every few years. However, no parent can put a price on his child’s safety. Make sure that before you and your child go for a ride, he’s safely secured in his own car seat. You never know what may happen from here to there.
Weighing in on Car Seat Safety
Now that you know your baby’s risks and the protection car seats provide, what are your thoughts on mandatory car seats for children? Should they be optional or is the law a good idea? Has a car seat prevented your child from being injured?
Let us know your thoughts by leaving your opinions, experiences, concerns and questions in the comment section. Not only will you help us learn more about you, our clients, and our readers, but your experiences can help educate others like you and help prevent a tragedy.