Child Safety Seats
Presented by Scott Murray, Esq.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), in 2005, 1,300 children ages 14 years and younger died as occupants in motor vehicle crashes in the United States, and approximately 184,000 were injured. That’s an average of 4 deaths and 504 injuries each day.
In 2009, more than 4,300 children 5 and under were injured in vehicle crashes in Florida. More than half of those children injured were improperly restrained or had no restraints at all.
Seatcheck.org reports 96 percent of parents and caregivers believe their child safety seats are installed correctly, but research shows that seven out of 10 children are improperly restrained.
Today I am going to provide you with some helpful tips and key websites that offer good information on child passenger safety.
When it comes to child seat safety, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers guidelines on their website – www.nhtsa.gov.
First, infants under and who are 20 pounds or less should ride in rear facing car seats placed in the backseat of the vehicle.
After a child has reached age 2 and they weigh more than 20 pounds, they should transfer to a forward-facing car seat until they have reached the maximum height and weight for their seat. Typically this is through 3 or 4 years old.
The next step is a booster seat for children until they have reached 4 feet 9 inches tall and are between 8 and 12 years old. Remember that booster seats must be used with a lap and should belt. Make sure that the lap belt lies low and snug across your child’s upper thighs and that the shoulder belt crosses the middle of the chest; not across your child’s neck.
After outgrowing their booster seats, children should ride in a lap and shoulder belt in the back seat until they are 13 years old.
Next, it is a good Idea to have your child safety seat inspected. Various organizations provide this free service. To find inspection sites in your area you can go to the website www.nhtsa.gov and search by zip code.
In Palm Beach County you can make an appointment to have your child seat checked by calling the city of Delray Fire Rescue Department at 561-243-7422 or the Boynton Beach Fire Rescue Department at 561-742-6343.
To access more information on this in both English and Spanish, call 1-866-732-8243 or log onto www.seatcheck.org.
When deciding what seat to buy, expectant parents have a choice between infant only and convertible seats infant only seats will be smaller so the newborn will be more-snug in the seat, while convertible seats can be used until a child reaches 40 pounds. If you research the subject you’ll find that most experts agree that both types are equally safe.
When a seat fails to work it is almost always because of improper installation or use. This is why the inspection I mentioned earlier is so important.
There are some things to look for when selecting a child seat. You want:
- A seat that meets all federal motor vehicle safety standards
- A seat that is easy to use and has clear understandable instructions
- A seat whose attachments are compatible with your car’s backseat
Note that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website has an Ease of Use rating system for all types of child safety seats.
Our final tips come from the American Academy of Pediatrics, who advise:
- Never use a child safety seat that is several years old, or has visible cracks.
- Never use a child safety seat that doesn’t come with the instructions, or that does not have the manufacturer and model number noted on it. You need this information in case of a recall. To find out if a child seat has been recalled, you can call the Auto Safety Hotline at 888-327-4236, or register your seat at www.nhtsa.gov to receive emails if there are any recalls or any later discovered defects in the seat model you are using, or check www.recalls.gov.
You can request a copy of our brochure on Child Safety Seats using the contact form on our website, www.murrayguari.com. To learn about the firm’s presentation on the Proper Use of Child Safety Seats available to schools and community organizations, click here.
If you have any questions about this topic or any legal questions please call 561-366-9099 or email me at smurraymurrayguari.com. Thank you.