Stories about: car safety for kids

Updated AAP car seat policy: Is your child a safe passenger?

Claire McCarthy, MD

Here’s a frightening statistic: according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3 out of 4 parents do not properly use child restraints.

Some of the mistakes happen because parents don’t understand how to use the car seat properly. I’ve struggled myself trying to figure out the instructions on a seat! Some of the mistakes happen because people don’t know which seat to use, and how, and until when.  And some of the mistakes happen because we get lazy—the harness is good enough, we think, even though it is a little loose. Or, darn, we left the booster seat in the other car, Junior is getting tall anyway, let’s just use the seatbelt.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children 4 years and older. Car safety seats prevent injuries—and save lives. But they aren’t going to do this if they aren’t used, and used properly.

Today, the American Academy of Pediatrics is issuing a policy statement on child passenger safety, in the hope of making it clear what parents and caregivers need to do to keep children safe in cars.

There are five recommendations:

They may hate it, but kids under 2 need to ride facing the rear of a car

1. Infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing seat until they are 2 years old—or until they reach the maximum height or weight for their rear-facing seat. Because of their body mechanics, they are safer this way.  I know little kids like facing forward, but they have their whole lives ahead of them to ride that way; keep them turned around for now.

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