Child Passenger Safety
AT A MINIMUM, INFANTS UNTIL AT LEAST ONE YEAR OLD AND AT LEAST 20 POUNDS SHOULD BE IN REAR-FACING CAR SEATS. LONGER IS BETTER!
- Never put an infant in the front seat of a vehicle with a passenger side air bag!*
- Keep harness straps snug and flat and fasten harness clip at armpit level.
- Infants must ride in the back seat facing the rear of the vehicle. This offers the best protection for your infant’s neck and spine.
- Route harness straps in LOWER slots at or below shoulder level.
- Never add extra padding to harness or behind child’s head or back.
- Put car seat carrying handle down in most seats. Check car seat instructions.
- Recline a rear facing seat to no more than a 45-degree angle (from vertical).
*Unless you have a manual cut-off switch and you have turned it off!
KIDS BETWEEN ONE AND FOUR YEARS OLD (BETWEEN 20 AND 40 POUNDS) CAN BE IN FORWARD-FACING CAR SEATS.
- Route harness straps in upper slots at or above shoulder level. Most convertible seats require using the top slots only for forward-facing. Read instruction booklet.
- Place car seat in upright position.
- Keep harness straps snug, flat and clean per manufacturers instructions.
- Fasten harness clip at armpit level.
- To achieve a tight installation, kneel in the child safety seat and apply your adult body weight while pulling the safety belt as tightly as possible.
- When pulled from side-to-side and front-to-back near the safety belt path, the child safety seat should not move any more than one inch.
- Always read your vehicle owner’s manual and child safety seat instructions.
- A booster seat helps lap and shoulder belts fit correctly: low and over hips and upper thighs and snug over the collar bone.
- Booster seats must be used with combination lap and shoulder belts.
- Safety belts were designed to properly fit adults and not children. Most kids under eight are too small to fit correctly in adult safety belts alone.
- If the top of your child’s ears are above the vehicle seat back, you should use a high back booster seat to protect his/her head.
ALL KIDS 4–8 YEARS OLD MUST BE RESTRAINED IN SOME FORM OF CHILD RESTRAINT, WHICH INCLUDES A BELT POSITIONING BOOSTER SEAT.
To fit safely in a lap/shoulder safety belt, without a booster seat, a child must pass the following test:
- They must be tall enough to sit with their knees bent at the edge of the seat with their lower back/buttocks touching the vehicle's seat back (no slouching).
- The lap belt portion must be low across the upper thighs and hips.
- The shoulder belt portion must be must fit snug over the collar bone, between the neck and shoulder.
ALL KIDS 8–16 YEARS OLD ARE REQUIRED TO BE RESTRAINED IN A CHILD RESTRAINT SYSTEM (WHICH INCLUDES A BELT POSITIONING BOOSTER SEAT) OR SAFETY BELT IN ALL SEATING POSITIONS IN ALL VEHICLES.
- Never put lap belt over the abdomen.
- Never put shoulder belt under child’s arms or behind their backs.
- Remember to read and follow your vehicle owner’s manual and car seat instructions carefully.
- For more information regarding child passenger safety, please contact the Automotive Safety Program at
1-800-KID-N-CAR or visit www.preventinjury.org or www.in.gov/cji .
• Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children age 3 to 15 years old.
• In 2003, there were a total of 42,643 traffic fatalities in the United States. The 0-14 age group accounted for 5 percent (2,136) of those traffic fatalities. In addition, children under 15 years old accounted for 4 percent (1,591) of all vehicle occupant fatalities, 9 percent (253,000) of all the people injured in motor vehicle crashes, and 8 percent (220,000) of all the vehicle occupants injured in crashes.
• In the United States, an average of 6 children 0–14 years old were killed and 694 were injured every day in motor vehicle crashes during 2003.
• Fifteen percent of children involved in car crashes are injured in some way.
• From 1975 through 2002, an estimated 6,567 lives were saved by the use of restraints (child safety seats or adult belts).
• Proper use of child safety seats reduces fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers (1–4 years old) in passenger cars.
• In Indiana, nearly 90 percent of child safety seats are improperly installed.
• The three most common mistakes made with child safety seats are: 1) Not attaching the seat tightly to the car or truck; 2) Not fastening the harness tightly enough; and 3) Not using the chest clip or using it incorrectly.
• Infants in rear-facing seats should never be placed in front of air bags. Air bags can kill or severely injure infants and young children.
• Children, as they grow, should progress through three types of child safety seats before using the safety belt alone: from rear-facing seats to forward facing seats to booster seats.
• Children who are not buckled up are three times more likely to suffer a significant injury in a crash than children who are buckled up. Significant injuries include brain injuries, fractures and damage to internal organs.
• Eighty-three percent of children between the ages of four and eight are inappropriately placed in adult safety belts.
• In Indiana, children under 8 years old must be properly secured in child safety seats or booster seats.
• Safety belt and child safety restraint use isn’t just a good idea: It’s the law.
• LATCH is a new system that makes child safety seat installation easier—without using safety belts. LATCH is required on most child safety seats and vehicles manufactured after September 1, 2002.
• LATCH is not required for booster seats, car beds and vests.
• Attachments on a LATCH-equipped child safety seat fasten to anchors in a LATCH-equipped vehicle.
• Most LATCH-equipped vehicles have anchors in the right and left rear seat positions. If the center seat doesn’t have anchors, refer to your vehicle owner’s manual to determine if your child safety seat can be installed in the center seat using the safety belt .
• If your vehicle isn’t LATCH-equipped, use the safety belt and, if available, a top tether.
• If your child safety seat isn’t LATCH-equipped, it’s still safe if it has been correctly installed using a safety belt, hasn’t been recalled, and hasn’t been damaged.
• For correct installation and use of ALL child safety seats, ALWAYS follow your vehicle owner’s manual and child safety seat manufacturer’s instructions.
• Remember, children are safest when properly restrained in the back seat.