As a parent, nothing is more important than keeping your child safe from harm. Whether sound asleep in a crib or traveling in a car seat, your child’s safety depends on you – a treasured burden of every parent.
As you consider how you can best protect your family, perhaps one of the most important safety apparatuses is your child’s car seat. Yet with so many choices, how do you know which one is right for your baby? Read on to learn more about choosing the right car seat and the most recent car seat safety laws passed in Connecticut.
How to Best Protect Your Children
A safe vehicle and careful driving habits are essential when transporting your child, but a good car seat can act as insurance in case an accident does happen. There is no excuse to not to have a car seat for your child. They are available for any child regardless of body type, and the manual that comes with it provides details on the height and weight specifications for the seat.
It’s important that your child’s car seat corresponds to their age, height and weight. The wrong car seat could be dangerous in a car accident, so be sure you understand the size specifications listed on the seat when choosing one for your son or daughter.
Rear-facing car seats are the first kind of car seats your child will experience. Originally designed for newborns and infants, they are now recommended and even required in some states for children up to age two, or based on their height or weight. Experts say a rear-facing child safety seat better protects the head, neck and spine of infants and toddlers during a crash, and diffuses the force of a collision over the whole body rather than at a singular point.
When strapping a child into a rear-facing car seat, make sure the seat is harnessed tightly to the vehicle, the harness is snug over the child, the chest clip is in the right place and that the seatbelt is installed correctly.
Forward-facing car seats are intended for children aged two or older. The National Highway Safety Administration recommends that children remain rear-facing until reaching the top height or weight limit allowed by the car seat manufacturer. At that point, parents can switch to using a forward-facing car seat or purchase a convertible one with a higher weight limit for rear-facing.
Booster seats should be used by children whose weight or height exceeds the forward-facing limit for their car seat. These children should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle seat belt fits properly.
Typically, children should remain in booster seats until they have reached 4 feet 9 inches, or around 8 years of age. At that time the child may be ready to sit in the backseat without the use of a booster seat.
Finding The Right Car Seat
Once you know which kind of car seat will best fit your child, you’ll need to decide which model provides the features best suited to your car.
Not all car seats and cars are made alike, so it’s important that you know what to look for when shopping for a car seat. Car seats and cars must work well together for their features to align. Be sure to look for the following when purchasing your car seat:
Double Up on Retainer Clips
Toddlers are adept at getting themselves into danger, and this means unbuckling single retainer clips and climbing out of their seats. Two-piece clips require a little more dexterity than most toddlers are capable of, and will help prevent them from escaping the seat and putting themselves in harm’s way.
Easy to Clean
Your child’s car seat may work perfectly, but nothing is safe from a child’s ability to make a mess. Choose a car seat that is made with smoother fabric, as opposed to textured ones like corduroy, as they will be easier to wipe clean when necessary. Smoother fabric will be easier to clean and help to keep your child tidy and happy. Consider purchasing a seat protector as well to protect your vehicles backseat.
Measure Your Car Space
Not all cars are created equal, and neither are all car seats. A smaller car may be too snug a fit for a car seat with a larger base, so you will want to measure your back seat before you go shopping. Take the tape with you to the store to compare the size of the seat to the room available in your car. You’ll find this saves a great deal of time and headache when you get the right seat the first time!
Know How To Attach Your Car Seat
The Car Seat Latch System
Keep in mind that newer vehicles may be outfitted with the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) system, which is a series of metal anchors embedded into the back seat of your car. These anchors are designed specifically with child safety seats in mind, and conveniently latch into their installation straps.
Make Things Easy on Yourself
If you plan on installing the car seat yourself, buy one that has clear instructions, including diagrams. Visual aids will help immensely in making sure the car seat is installed properly. To avoid any confusion, you can always look to YouTube for helpful videos, get help from a certified child safety technician in your area, or a local fitting station in Connecticut to help install the car seat for you. They are trained in child safety seat installation and know the best ways to secure them to your vehicle.
Secure the Belt Path
Some car seats may be installed using your vehicle’s own safety belts. This is done through the car seat’s belt path, which allows the safety belt to restrict and secure the seat through accommodating slots. When securing the car seat through the belt path, make certain that the seat gives no more than one inch of side-to-side motion. The more stable the seat, the less it will jerk during a sudden stop and risk injury to your child.
If you still have questions regarding which car seat to buy, view the car seat buying guide by Consumer Reports and the extensive list of car seat models by the Car Seat Blog. Any decision regarding your child’s safety is an important one, and you deserve to have all the information available before making a choice.
Connecticut’s New Car Seat Law
The American Academy of Pediatrics now advocates the requirement for keeping children in rear-facing car seats until the age of two. Connecticut lawmakers signed this requirement into law just last October.
The new law requires the following for children riding in various types of car seats:
- Rear-facing seats: Children must ride in rear-facing car seats until they are 2 years old and at least 30 pounds.
- Forward facing seats: Children must ride in car seats until they are 5 years old and weigh 40 pounds.
- Booster seats: Children must ride in booster seats until they are age 8 and weigh 60 pounds.
Connecticut’s Old Car Seat Law
Connecticut’s new car seat law might not seem all that different from the old law. Previous law stated that children under one year of age and under 20 pounds had to ride in rear facing car seats, and children up to age 7 were required to sit in a booster seat.
However, while these adjustments are slight, they can make a significant difference when it comes to a small child’s safety. Connecticut is not the first state to extend the time a child must remain in a car seat, and more states are expected to follow suit.
Penalties and Fines
While regulations have changed, penalties for violations remain the same. The first offense is an infraction; the second is subject to a fine of up to $199. Offenders are also required to attend a Department of Motor Vehicles approved child car seat safety class.
Why Has the Car Seat Law Changed?
Connecticut’s new law serves as a preventative measure to better protect children from suffering injury and trauma during a car wreck. Unlike most healthy adults, children are more fragile and susceptible to grave injuries, even when a car accident is minor. When a child is involved in an accident, he or she endures an amount of stress, trauma and pain that a young mind cannot fully comprehend.
Often times, the traumatic motion of a car accident alone is enough to considerably injure a child, even when the child has not suffered a direct impact. Children also face increased risks of whiplash and concussions during car accidents as young bodies are not fully developed or as resilient as adults are. A child’s safety directly depends on parents, and that includes the proper use and selection of car a seat.
Did you know that statistics show 3 out of 4 car seats in the United States are used incorrectly? This ranges from minor to major misuse that can cause serious injury or fatality during a crash.
The cost of keeping a child secured in a car seat is negligible, but the consequences of not can be life-changing.
Who We Are
The Flood Law Firm is a team of attorneys in Connecticut who pride themselves on their strong record of representing real people who have been injured due to another person’s reckless behavior. We are the voice of those who have been injured through no fault of their own.