As we begin preparing our children to return to school, it’s a great time to review vehicle safety when transporting children. All children 12 and under should ride in the back seat of a vehicle and seated in the proper restraints, unless they exceed the height and weight limitations advised by each state. Additionally, the law requires infants and toddlers to be in a rear-facing car seat up to two years old – as old as four years is recommended. However, a study in 2013 revealed that 11 percent of U.S. children under age 13 wore no seat belts or child safety restraints at all.

Considering that a seat belt will cut the risk of dying from a car accident by about 45 percent, the reality of unrestrained children is alarming. And wearing a seat belt alone is not enough in most cases with children. Due to their size and stature, proper fit is key for keeping children safe in the event of a car accident. Car seats and booster seats are designed and tested to do just that.

Even parents who are using car seats may run into problems if an accident occurs. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 59 percent of child car seats are installed incorrectly. So what’s a parent / grandparent / caregiver / aunt / uncle / etc to do?

Child safety seat checklist

  • Check the laws and recommendations for child car seating in your state: www.iihs.org
  • Learn about the different types of car seats are available by age. And remember, the higher the price tag, doesn’t mean the better the seat. www.healthychildren.org
  • Read your car seat or booster seat’s installation guide
  • Schedule a visit with a certified child seat technician. Many fire stations, hospitals, and AAA offices, among other locations are available – free of charge. Look up your nearest safety check location: www.nhtsa.gov
  • Ensure all children in your care always buckle up

Travel safely

So whether your child is carpooling with the neighbor or you’re picking up a niece or nephew from daycare, we’re all responsible for ensuring our children are properly restrained in our vehicles in case life takes an unexpected turn.

And for additional back to school safety tips, check out HealthyChildren.org.