Keeping Kids Safe in the Car

Motor vehicle injuries amongst children are a tragic cause of death that can be prevented by an increased use of the appropriate safety restraints. The first step to keeping kids safe in the car is ensuring the use of a child safety seat, booster seat, or seat belt as their height and weight requirement permits. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, car seats reduce the risk of infant fatality by 71% and to toddlers by 54% in passenger vehicles.

Aside from ensuring kids are buckled up, correct usage of car seats and booster seats can save lives. Knowing which kind of car seat your child should be using based on their age, height and weight is preeminently important. After installing the car seat following your specific car seat’s guidelines, you should register the car seat here to receive any recall notices should they occur.

New York’s Occupant Restraint laws require the following:

  • Children up to the age of 4 must be properly restrained in a federally approved child safety seat that is attached to a vehicle by a seat belt or universal child restraint anchorage (LATCH) system. However, a child who is under the age of 4 and weighs more than 40 pounds may be restrained in a booster seat with a lap/shoulder safety belt.
  • Children ages 4, 5, 6 and 7 must be properly secured in a child restraint system that is designed to accommodate a certain height and weight.
  • Children ages 8 through 15 must be restrained by a seat belt that has both a shoulder and lap belt. According to The CDC states that seat belts reduce the risk of death and severe injury in half for older children and adults.
  • Although not required, it is recommended that children be secured in a booster seat until the child reaches 4 feet 9 inches in height or weighs 100 pounds.

In addition to New York’s laws, the CDC recommends that children be seated in the back seat until the age of 12 to prevent injury from a front seat airbag. The safest spot for children in the back row is the middle back seat. Having your child seated in the back seat reduces his/her risk of death by 33%.

New York recently passed legislation that would require children under the age of 2 to remain in rear facing car seats. The legislation cites a study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics that showed a rear-facing car seat best protects a child’s head by “preventing the relatively large head from moving independently of the proportionately smaller neck.” If Governor Cuomo signs this bill, failure to abide by the law will result in a penalty of a fine of $100 and 3 points on the driver’s license for violations involving children under the age of 16. This penalty applies to violations of any of the above referenced requirements under New York’s Occupant Restraint laws.

Above all, parents and caregivers must set an example for children by using a seat belt themselves. As children get older, they may be resistant to comply with the child safety restraint laws, especially if they see a role model ignoring regulations. To keep your kids safe, you must also take your own safety seriously.