Ask any parent what is the most important thing in the world to them and, chances are, the answer will be “my child.” One of the best ways to protect your child is to use a child car seat and use it properly.
Car accident injuries are the number one cause of death in children under the age of 14. Of those car accident deaths, more than 50% were caused by children being unrestrained. Many were due to improper restraining. According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, 80% of child restraints are used incorrectly.
Child Car Seats Reduce Car Accident Injuries and Deaths
The good news is that when properly used, child car seats reduce the risk of fatal car accident injuries in infants by 71% and by 54% for children between the ages of one and four. Also, child car seats limit the risk of car accident injuries requiring hospitalization by 69% for children under the age of four.
The safest possible place for your child is in a center rear-facing safety seat. Keep them in that position as long as possible. The “12-month/20-pounds” rule to which many parents adhere to is actually the minimum size and age requirement for turning a child car seat to a forward-facing position.
The safest practice is to keep the baby rear-facing in a convertible car seat until he or she reaches the maximum height or weight allowed by the manufacturer. Some seats have a maximum capacity of up to 40 pounds and parents are well advised to purchase a child car seat that will often handle a child over two years old. Forward-facing children are four times more likely to have a car accident injury than rear-facing children.
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Learn to Use Your Child Car Seat Properly
Before using the child car seat, read the installation instructions thoroughly. Practice installing the child car seat before you plan to travel with your child. Models vary, so don’t play with your baby’s life by assuming that you know everything about every child car seat.
Once your child is in an appropriate rear-facing car seat, adjust it to a semi-reclined position no more than 45 degrees, thus keeping the baby’s head in contact with the seat and ensuring that the airway remains open. Make sure that the buckled straps remain at shoulder height and not above the shoulders. The harness should be at armpit level. Use either the car’s seat belt or LATCH system to lock the child car seat into the car; not both at once.
Test the car seat by grasping it at the safety belt or LATCH system and moving it from side to side. The seat should not move more than one inch side to side or front to back.
Once your child is over 40 pounds, use a forward-facing car seat or child booster seat that correctly fits in a back seat every time your toddler rides in a car, and until the harness no longer fits in a back seat every time your toddler rides in a car.
Child Car Seat Safety and Louisiana Law
Louisiana law requires that a child under the age of six years and less than 60 pounds must be in a child restraint system or booster seat that is age and size appropriate in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations. Children from six to 12 years must be restrained by a lap belt, shoulder harness or an age/size appropriate child safety or booster seat. Non-compliance can result in a written warning requiring that the parent provide proof that an appropriate child restraint device has been obtained within 30 days of the warning. Failure to comply can result in suspension of the parent’s driver’s license.
To be sure that you are properly installing the child car seat and restraining your child, have your car seat checked by a certified child passenger safety technician. The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission provides Child Passenger Fitting Stations throughout the state that provide the service at no charge. After all, that’s precious cargo you’re carrying!
Contact Morris Bart about Your Car Accident Injuries
If you have been involved in a car accident injury involving a child, please contact the personal injury attorneys at Morris Bart, LLC Attorneys at Law today. We offer a free case evaluation with our personal injury attorneys, who will review the details of your case and advise you on the best approach to getting the compensation you deserve.
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