Car Seat Safety
Middle of the back seat: The safest place to ride for all children younger than 13 years is the back seat. If possible, it may be best to ride in the middle of the back seat. However, it is sometimes difficult to install a car seat tightly in the middle if the vehicle seat is narrow or uneven. Also, most vehicles do not have lower anchors for the middle seating position. It is safest to put the car seat in a position where you can install it tightly with either the lower anchor system or seat belt; in some cases, this may be on either side of the back seat rather than the middle. A child passenger safety technician (CPST) can help you decide which place is best to install your child’s car seat in your vehicle.
Car Seat Safety
Car Seat Safety By Age Using a child safety seat or booster seat that’s right for your child’s age and size can help prevent injuries and fatalities caused by car crashes. Find important tips, including educational videos, to keep your child safe in the car at any age. Premature infants and babies with medical conditionsNewborn to 2 years oldToddlersAges 4 through 8Older childrenCar seat safety videos by age
Car Seat Safety
Always read the vehicle owner’s manual and the car seat manual before installing the seat. Any child who has outgrown the rear-facing weight or height limit for his convertible seat should use a forward-facing seat with a harness for as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by his car seat manufacturer. It is best for children to ride in a seat with a harness as long as possible, at least to 4 years of age. If your child outgrows a seat before reaching 4 years of age, consider using a seat with a harness approved for higher weights and heights.
Car Seat Safety
Instead, a tether strap secures the top of the safety seat to an anchorage point either on the rear shelf area, the rear floor, or the back of the rear seat of the car, depending on the vehicle model. Lower anchors secure attachments on the bottom of the safety seat to a point located between the car’s seat cushion and seat back.
Car Seat Safety
LATCH is an attachment system for car seats. Lower anchors can be used instead of the seat belt to install the seat, and many parents find them easier to use in some cars. The top tether improves safety provided by the seat and is important to use for all forward-facing seats, even those installed using the vehicle seat belt. The seat belt and LATCH systems are equally safe, but in some cases it may be easier to install the car seat using one or the other.
All kids 2 years or older, or those younger than 2 years who have outgrown the rear-facing height or weight limit for their car seat, should use a forward-facing car seat with a full harness for as long as possible. They should only switch to a booster seat that relies on the car’s adult seatbelts when they exceed the height and weight limit for their forward-facing car seat.
You must make sure the seat belt locks to help get a tight fi t. In most newer cars, you can lock the seat belt by pulling it all the way out and then allowing it to retract to keep the seat belt tight around the car seat. Additionally, many car seats have built-in lock-offs to lock the belt without having to separately lock the seat belt as well. Refer to the vehicle owner’s manual for details about how your seat belt locks.
Find where to get a car seat inspection, see if you qualify for a subsidized car seat, download materials and find more resources for parents and caregivers.Get an inspection.Find car seat fit recommendations.See recalls.Know Colorado’s Child Passenger Safety Law.Review frequently asked questions.
Vehicles with the LATCH system have lower anchors located in the back seat, where the seat cushions meet. Tether anchors are located behind the seat, either on the panel behind the seat (in sedans) or back of the seat, ceiling, or floor (in most minivans, SUVs, hatchbacks, and pickup trucks). All car seats have attachments that fasten to these anchors. Nearly all passenger vehicles and all car seats made on or after September 1, 2002, are equipped to use LATCH.
Seat belts are made for adults. Children should stay in a booster seat until adult seat belts fit correctly, typically when children reach about 4 feet 9 inches in height and are 8 through 12 years of age. Most children will not fit in a seat belt alone until 10 to 11 years of age. When children are old enough and large enough to use the vehicle seat belt alone, they should always use lap and shoulder seat belts for the best protection. All children younger than 13 years should ride in the back seat.
If you need help installing your safety seat or would like a technician to check whether you’ve installed it properly, the federal government has set up child car seat inspection stations across the country. Also, many local health departments, public safety groups, hospitals, law enforcement agencies, and fire departments have technicians or fitting stations to help parents. (If you go to one of these locations, be sure to ask for a certified child passenger safety technician.)
The best car seat is not always the most expensive one — it’s the one that best fits a child’s weight, size, and age, as well as your vehicle. Once you select a seat, be sure to try it out, keeping in mind that store displays and illustrations might not show the correct usage. It’s up to you to learn how to install a car safety seat properly and harness your child for the ride.
Child safety seats can greatly reduce the risk of a potentially fatal injury, especially for babies but also for toddlers. Yet many safety seats are used incorrectly. When choosing any car seat, following some general guidelines will help ensure a child’s safety.
Safety for Life At NHTSA, we work to save lives on our Nation’s roadways. That includes doing everything we can to keep your children safe on the road. We’re leading the effort, but you’re the key to protecting your family. In this section, you’ll find information and resources to keep your children safe on the road. Whether you’re buying your child’s first car seat, deciding whether to let your kids walk to school or take a bus, handing the car keys to your teenager, or wondering how safe your car is, we’re here to answer your questions. Check back to this site often to keep up with the latest information and guidelines. Tween Parents – Never Give Up Until They Buckle Up.
Safety for Life At NHTSA, we work to save lives on our Nation’s roadways. That includes doing everything we can to keep your children safe on the road. We’re leading the effort, but you’re the key to protecting your family. In this section, you’ll find information and resources to keep your children safe on the road. Whether you’re buying your child’s first car seat, deciding whether to let your kids walk to school or take a bus, handing the car keys to your teenager, or wondering how safe your car is, we’re here to answer your questions. Check back to this site often to keep up with the latest information and guidelines.
Using a child safety seat or booster seat that’s right for your child’s age and size can help prevent injuries and fatalities caused by car crashes. Find important tips, including educational videos, to keep your child safe in the car at any age.
Infant car seats should always be installed to face the rear of the car. A child under age 2 is 75% less likely to die or be seriously injured when in a rear-facing seat because the back of the safety seat will cradle the baby’s head, neck, and torso in a crash (at this age, a child’s neck usually isn’t strong enough to support the head in a crash).
Most booster seats are not secured to the vehicle seat with the seat belt or lower anchor and tether but simply rest on the vehicle seat and are held in place once the seat belt is fastened over a child. However, some models of booster seats can be secured to the vehicle seat and kept in place using the lower anchors or top tether. (Currently, only a few vehicle manufacturers offer built-in booster seats.)
Safety seats dramatically reduce the risk of death or serious injury in a collision. Stephanie Tombrello, executive director of the nonprofit passenger-safety organization SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A., urges all parents to get a safety seat that’s convenient to use, and to make buckling your child into it such a habit that you don’t even have to think about it.
Most forward-facing safety seats made after September 1999 are equipped with top tether straps, and most vehicles made after September 2000 have tether anchors. Since September 2002, most new vehicles also have lower safety seat anchorage points and most safety seats have lower anchor attachments.