All About Car Seat Safety and Passenger Laws
Guest post by: Laurence Banville Esq.
The number one killer of children is car crashes. According to Traffic Safety Marketing, an average of two children under the age of 13 per day are killed in crashes involving cars, SUVs, vans and pickup trucks. That’s a staggering number that every driver needs to work to reduce. Most of these deaths could be prevented if the children had been properly restrained either in a car seat, booster seat or properly wearing a seat belt. Ensuring children are properly secured in the car can increase the chances of survival in the event of an accident.
Car Seat Safety and Passenger Laws
There are laws in place to ensure passenger safety. Because children are small, there are special laws that apply to them for riding in a car. For instance, the National Safety Council recommends children be placed in a rear-facing car seat through the age of two and children who are under 13 ride in the back seat.
Everyone in the car needs to buckle up, and if your child argues, then you should refuse to move the car until they comply. Kids can be stubborn, but it’s your job to make sure they are safe. Most kids, even very small kids, want to ride in the front seat, but this can be dangerous. Airbags in the front don’t provide the same protection for kids as they do adults. In fact, they can cause injury and even death if they deploy with a small child in the front seat.
Children who are 13 or over and allowed to ride in the front seat should always wear their safety belt. You should also put the passenger’s seat back as far as you are able to keep your child away from the impact of the airbag in the event of a crash. Children who are older than two years old must be seated in a forward-facing car seat. Once they reach the weight limit, which is usually around eight years old, they should then use a booster seat.
If you are driving someone else’s child, you need to be just as diligent as you are with your own when it comes to passenger safety. If you fail to properly restrain a child in your car you are going to be liable if they are injured in a wreck.
Here are some quick facts for reference:
- A rear-facing car seat is meant to be used from birth until age 2 or until the child exceeds the weight limit of the seat which is usually around 35 lbs.
- A forward-facing car seat is intended to be used until the child is 5 years old or exceeds height and/or weight limits of the seat. The maximum weight is usually between 40 – 60 lbs depending on the seat.
- A booster seat should be used when a child is 5 years old or has exceeded the weight or height of the forward-facing car seat. A child would have outgrown the booster when they reach 57 inches in height.
Letting Someone Else Drive Your Child
As school begins, many parents are carpooling their kids or the nanny may be responsible for transporting the child. If you are one of these parents and your child is going to be riding with someone other than you, there are some considerations you should make to ensure your child is safe.
- Check the driver’s driving record. We all make mistakes, but you’ll have peace of mind in knowing the person who will be driving your child has a clean driving record. You don’t want to see any major infractions, such as a reckless driving charge or a DUI charge.
- Check out the driver’s car. There are many cars on the road that are just not safe. There’s nothing wrong with taking a look at the driver’s car to ensure it is safe. It’s a good idea to ask about the car’s last inspection and the maintenance schedule. Check the tires and ensure they have the proper tread.
- Ask about their habits while driving. So many people these days text and talk on the cell phone while driving. There are enough distractions when you’re behind the wheel without adding in a cell phone. Simply let the driver know you are not comfortable with cell phone use while your child is in the car. They should respect your wishes and stay off the phone.
- Ask to see proof of insurance. There’s a lot of uninsured cars on the road and you do not want to put your child in an uninsured car. Ask to see an up-to-date insurance card and ask for details on the coverage that has been purchased.
When you think about all the cars on the road and everything drivers must contend with, it’s no wonder there are so many laws in place for children riding in cars. Only by following such laws will you be able to ensure your child’s safety and reduce the risk of injury or death should you be involved in an accident. You will be able to focus on defensive driving and have peace of mind knowing your child is restrained properly while the car is in motion.
About Laurence Banville Esq.
Laurence Banville Esq. is the managing partner and face of Banville Law. Laurence is licensed to practice law in the state of New York. Originally from Ireland, Banville moved to the United States of America where he worked at law firms, refining his litigation and brief writing crafts. He is also the recipient of the Irish Legal 100 and the Top 40 Under 40 awards.