Recommendations on car seat safety seats have recently been updated by The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The updated policy statement, published in the November 2018 issue of Pediatrics, titled “ Child Passenger Safety ,” recommends that children should remain rear facing in their car seat for as long as possible. Previously, it was recommended that they remain rear facing until the age of 2. The new recommendation removes the age specific milestone and focuses on the height and weight of the child.
Most of today’s car seats allow children to remain rear-facing until they weigh 40 pounds or more, which means most children can remain rear facing comfortably past their second birthday.
When a child rides rear-facing the most vulnerable parts of their body are protected in the event of a crash. The head, neck, and spine are all supported by the hard shell of the car seat, allowing the car seat to absorb most of the crash forces. When children ride forward-facing, their bodies are restrained by the harness straps, but their heads can be thrown forward resulting in spine and brain damage.
Parents often look forward to transitioning from one milestone to the next in their child’s life. However, safety experts say delaying the transition from rear-facing to forward-facing, car seat to booster seat, and booster seat to seat belt alone is best. Each step reduces the protection to the child if involved in a car accident.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), car accidents are one of the leading causes of death among children. This is in part because a child’s body is still developing and is therefore more susceptible to trauma, such as the kind that often happens in a car accident, than an adult’s body is. Using the right car safety seat or booster seat lowers the risk of death or serious injury by more than 70 percent.
The AAP recommends the following when transitioning your child’s safety seat from one stage to the next.
- Infants and toddlers should ride rear-facing for as long as possible. At least until they reach the highest height and weight requirements for the seat. Most convertible seats have extended limits that will allow children to ride rear-facing for 2 years or more.
- Once facing forward, children should use a forward-facing car safety seat with a harness for as long as possible and until they reach the max. height and weight limits for their seats. Many seats today can accommodate children up to 65 pounds or more.
- Belt-positioning booster seats should only be used after the child has exceeded the height and weight limits of a car seat and until the vehicle’s lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly. This is often when they have reached at least 4 feet 9 inches in height and are 8 to 12 years old.
- Children under the age of 13 should always ride in the back seat for maximum protection.
At the law firm of Michael T. Gibson, P.A. we understand that your children are your most precious cargo and we want to make sure they travel safely. If you have been involved in a car accident and your child suffered a catastrophic injury or fatal injury as a result, you need to contact an experienced Orlando auto accident attorney immediately. These injuries and fatalities can be the result of multiple factors, including the negligence of another driver or a manufacturer defect, such as a failed seatbelt, airbag or poorly designed car seat. At our firm, we have the resources to fight the car manufacturers for failing to provide adequate protection for children and the big insurance companies. Feel free to fill out our quick contact form on our website to discuss your legal options in more detail.