The facts are in front of us. Car seat use reduces the risk for death to infants by 71% and to toddlers by 54% in passenger vehicles. Booster seat use reduces the risk for serious injury by 45% for children aged 4–8 years when compared with seat belt use alone. For older children and adults, seat belt use reduces the risk for death and serious injury by approximately half.
For the best possible protection, infants and children should be buckled in a rear-facing car seat, in the back seat, until age 2 or when they reach the upper weight or height limits of their particular seat. When they outgrow their rear-facing seats they should be buckled in a forward-facing car seat, in the back seat, until at least age 5 or when they reach the upper weight or height limit of their particular seat.
Once children outgrow their forward-facing seat, they should be buckled in a belt positioning booster seat until seat belts fit properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs (not the stomach) and the shoulder belt lays across the chest (not the neck).
Child restraint systems are often used incorrectly. An estimated 46% of car and booster seats (59% of car seats and 20% of booster seats) are misused in a way that could reduce their effectiveness. Install and use car seats and booster seats according to the manufacturer’s manual.
Buckle children in car seats, booster seats, or seat belts on every trip, no matter how short. Restraint use among young children often depends upon the driver’s seat belt use. Almost 40% of children riding with unbelted drivers were themselves unrestrained. Set a good example by always using a seat belt yourself. Let’s change, “We never wore seat belts…” to “Who would think of getting in a vehicle without buckling up?”