Car Seat Basics: Selection and Use
the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle crashes are the #1 killer of kids in age groups 1-14. Safe Kids USA says motor vehicle crashes are the #1 cause of
unintentional injury-related death for all children 14 and under. While some crashes are
unsurvivable, over 57% of deaths for children 0-15 were because the child was
unrestrained. Many more were improperly restrained. Nationally,
the misuse rate for child safety seats is over 80% and as high as 95% in
some areas. The good news is that correct use of car seats and
boosters does save lives. Infant seats have been shown to reduce
fatal injury by 71%, and toddler seats by 54%. The information
and links on this web page can help you with one of the easiest and most
important ways you can protect your children.
Ten Basic Rules:
- Kids 12 and under should ALWAYS ride in the back seat.
This cuts their risk of death by 36%.
- Kids should be in a carseat or booster until they can be seated
properly in a seatbelt. For most kids, this is around 8-12 years
old or 4′ 9″ tall, but proper seatbelt fit is the most important
- Never place a rear-facing carseat in the front seat when
there is an active frontal airbag.
- Keep your baby rear-facing
as long as possible. That can mean up to 35 or 40 pounds in most
current convertible seats, unless they outgrow it by height
- All current car seats pass government safety standards.
Select the one that best fits your child, your vehicle and your
budget. Some models do have different features; select one that
has the features that will allow you to use it correctly EVERY
- Always read the owners manuals for your vehicle and carseat
thoroughly. They often contain specific information about carseat
installation that may not be obvious. Some models may vary from what
you would expect.
- Make sure that the harness fits snugly on your child, the carseat
fits snugly in your vehicle, and that your vehicle seatbelts
are locked properly.
- When you buy a carseat, make sure
you have a good return policy in
case it doesn’t fit or in case you find you don’t like it. Have your
seat inspected by a certified technician for free at a checkup event or fitting
- Please be wary of used carseats, especially those over six years old, those
with an unknown history that may have been in a crash, those that show any
form of cracks or damage, and those with missing labels, model number,
manufacturing date, instructions or parts.
- Please give driving your complete, unimpaired attention and wear your
own seatbelt all the time. These two simple steps are among these
easiest ways you can protect yourself and your passengers from injury or
Also see our Frequently Asked Questions List for answers
to other common carseat issues.
Selecting the Appropriate Carseat for