Creating Laws for Children’s Safety
No matter where you live in the United States, there are laws that apply to children’s safety in vehicles. These laws regulate the types of car seats that are allowed, the age of the child and in some states the height or weight of the child. Each state has its own laws so if you have a concern or question about the laws in your state, you can search for your state’s requirements at your local DMV, Department of Transportation website, or check with your local law enforcement. Additionally, many cities have “Installation Stations”, which allows parents of any age of child (that needs a safety seat) to have seats double checked for secure and proper placement, as well as the overall safety and condition of the seat.
All state laws require that children may only travel in a moving vehicle if they are properly restrained in approved child safety seats. The age/height/weight restrictions for a proper and safe car seat vary from state to state. Before you graduate your child to using an adult seat belt, make sure that it is safe for him to do so.
Proper Restraints Can Decrease Vehicular Related Injuries
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Center for Health and Safety, injuries sustained in vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death for children in the U.S. A majority of these accidental deaths could be prevented if every child was properly restrained in an age and weight appropriate infant or booster car seat. Studies show that fatal and serious injuries could be reduced by up to 50%.
Is Your Child at a Greater Risk of Being Injured in An Accident?
You are your child’s role model and children mimic the actions of adults. If a child sees that the adult driving the vehicle is not wearing a seat belt then they will think that it is acceptable for them not to. One study reported that about 40% of children who are unrestrained in a vehicle are riding in a car with an unrestrained driver. Choosing to “Buckle Up” shows your impressionable child that you value safety and you want them to be safe, too. Additionally, your child may be a greater risk of being injured in an accident if he is secured in an improperly installed car seat. Every time your child is in his safety seat, make sure the seat is secure and he is strapped in properly. A properly installed car seat can greatly reduce the chance of your child being hurt or killed in an accident.
Take the Time to Do Your Research Before You Travel
While your child’s safety on the road should remain your number one priority, it’s not a bad idea to research other state’s seat belt laws (especially if you are planning a road trip cross country). As with any seat belt law, your children should remain properly restrained when the car is in motion. If you are stopped by highway patrol and are questioned about your child’s safety restraints, you may not be able to talk your way out of a ticket just because you are a “traveler passing through”.
Be a Law Abiding Driver, Keep Your Child Safe
While many drivers and passengers can’t remember a time when they didn’t wear a seat belt, there are still drivers and passengers alike who refuse to wear a safety restraint while traveling in a car. Whether they “simply forget” or “don’t feel comfortable”, wearing a seat belt is the law. If you, as an adult, choose not to wear a seat belt, that’s your law-breaking choice, but don’t put your child’s life in danger by not offering him the safest seat possible.