Whether it is running errands or going to activities, grandparents often end up traveling in a vehicle with their grandchildren when spending time together. However, grandparents may not always know the best way to keep children safe when on the road. After all, car safety has evolved considerably over the last few decades. Understanding the best practices for installing car seats and using seat belts can ensure the safest experience possible when traveling by car with children in Chicago and across Illinois.
Best Practices for Installing Car Seats
“Car seats are too complicated. Don’t worry, I’ll just drive carefully.” “We are just going down the street.” “My kids were fine without car seats.” These are just some things grandparents may say when traveling with children in a car. However, grandparents need to understand the importance of using a car seat or seat belt every trip, no matter the distance or destination.
Securing a child correctly in a vehicle can help keep them safe in case an accident occurs. Modern-day car seats are equipped with technology specially engineered to protect children at each stage as they grow.
Younger parents might find the process of installing and using a car seat physically easy, but grandparents may need a little time and patience. Before buying or installing a car seat, grandparents should make sure it is appropriate to the age, size and weight of their grandchild. An easy way to check is to enter some basic information into the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Car Seat Finder Tool.
Tips for Installing a Car Seat
- Read the car seat’s instruction manual for guidance.
- Since the back seat is the safest, that is where the car seat should be installed.
- Be sure the car seat is installed at the proper angle and facing in the correct direction. According to the NHTSA, it should be rear-facing until the child outgrows the seat’s height and weight limits.
- Put the seat belt through the correct belt path or install the car seat using lower anchors and tethers. The seat belt should be tightly locked with the car’s locking mechanism or the car seat’s lock-off.
- When securing a child in a car seat, make sure the chest clip is at armpit height and that the straps fit snugly.
- For booster seats, the seat belt should fit securely over the child’s shoulder and hips.
For additional resources on car seat installation, visit the NHTSA website. Grandparents who need assistance with installation can search for a car seat inspection station in their local area. They can also make a virtual appointment with a child passenger safety technician.
Seat Belt Usage for Children
Along with car seats and booster seats, seat belt usage is another essential part of child car safety. The NHTSA reports that 40 percent of vehicle passengers ages 14 and younger were not wearing seat belts when killed in crashes in 2019.
Children are ready to transition out of a booster seat and into a seat belt when they are between 8 and 12 years old. Grandparents should ensure children continue using a booster seat until they outgrow its size limits or are tall enough to fit properly in seat belts.
Tips for buckling up properly
- To use a seat belt, the child should be able to keep their back against the vehicle seat and feet flat on the floor.
- The lap belt should rest securely across the upper thighs, not the stomach.
- The shoulder belt should be positioned snugly across the shoulder and chest. It should not cross the face or neck.
- Even when children can use seat belts properly, those under age 13 should remain in the back seat for maximum safety.
When seat belts are loose or improperly fitted, they can increase the risk of serious injuries in a car accident. For example, putting the shoulder belt behind the back or under the arm can be dangerous. Grandparents should always check the child’s seat belt fit in every vehicle. A booster seat may be necessary for some cars.
Enforcing seat belt safety can become more challenging as a child grows. Grandparents can set an example by buckling up properly every time they sit inside a vehicle, no matter how short the ride is. According to the NHTSA, child restraint use declines by 40 percent when parents ride without their seat belts.
Seat belt safety should never be up for negotiation. Grandparents should consistently remind their grandchildren to buckle up properly every time they get into a car.
Injured in a Chicago Car Accident? Contact Briskman Briskman & Greenberg.
Even when grandparents take every precaution to keep children safe, car accidents can and do still occur. If you or your grandchild has been injured in a crash, discuss your case with the compassionate and skilled personal injury lawyers at Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. We can advise you of your legal options for obtaining financial support for medical bills, property damage and other costs.