Child passenger safety is a big issue for the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), as when properly used, child restraint systems reduce fatalities by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers in passenger cars.  In order to improve child passenger safety, the DOT, local law enforcement agencies, and Safe Kids USA came together to offer free car seat inspections at 400 locations across the country.

Infant Passenger Safety Tips 

If you missed out on the free inspection, there are still ample resources available for you to check and ensure that you are properly restraining your child.  According to Safe Kids USA, all infants should be in a rear-facing car seat to at least age 1 and 20 lbs.  However, you should continue to use your rear-facing car seat longer if the seat has higher weight and height limits as rear-facing is safest for infants.  Rear-facing as long as possible is a practice endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and other child safety organizations. 

Consider the following facts about rear-facing car seats

  • Rear-facing is safest for both adults and children, but especially for babies, who would face a greater risk of spinal cord injury in a front-facing car seat during a frontal crash.
  • Rear-facing car seats spread frontal crash forces over the whole area of a baby's back, head, and neck; they also prevent the head from snapping relative to the body in a frontal crash.
  • Rear-facing car seats may not be quite as effective in a rear-end crash, but severe frontal and frontal offset crashes are far more frequent and far more severe than severe rear-end crashes.
  • Rear-facing car seats are NOT a safety risk just because a baby's legs are bent at the knees or because they can touch/kick the vehicle seat.
  • Rear-facing as long as possible is the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatricians and can reduce injuries and deaths.   Motor Vehicle Crashes are the #1 overall cause of death for children 14 and under. 

You may take the next step to a forward-facing car seat when your child is at least one year old, and you answer “yes” to either question:

  • Does your child exceed the car seat’s rear-facing height and weight limits?
  • Is your child’s head within one inch of the car seat top?

According to SafeKids USA, you should follow these guidelines from birth to at least age 1 and 20 lbs:

  • Use a rear-facing car seat correctly in a back seat every time your baby rides in a car.
  • Use the right car seat for your baby’s weight and height. Infants are weighed and measured at every doctor visit, so keep track.
  • Use the car’s safety belt or LATCH system to lock the car seat into the car. Your car seat should not move more than one-inch side to side or front to back. Grab the car seat at the safety belt path or LATCH path to test it.
  • Put harnesses through the slots, so they are even with or below the infant’s shoulders. Be sure the harness is tight, so you can’t pinch extra webbing at the shoulder.
  • Adjust the chest clip to the armpit level.
  • Use your baby’s car seat rear-facing and reclined no more than 45 degrees so the baby’s head stays in contact with the seat and the baby’s airway stays open. Read the car seat instructions.
  • Keep your baby rear-facing until at least age 1 and 20 pounds. Use a rear-facing convertible seat longer if the seat has higher weight and height limits.
  • Find where the frontal airbags are in your vehicle by checking the owner’s manual. Never put a rear-facing car seat in front of an active airbag.
  • Be sure all occupants wear safety belts correctly every time. Children learn from adult role models.‚Äč 

If you or someone you love has been involved in a car accident, then we want to hear from you. 

Please contact the Northern Virginia law offices of Dulaney, Lauer & Thomas today and let us work with you to secure the justice and compensation that you deserve.

Carl N. Lauer
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Representing injured persons in Virginia. Workers' Compensation Claims.

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