Have you ever thought about the way that you travelled in a car when you were a child with the way your children do now? Have you ever reminisced about riding around in the “way back” without any seatbelts much less any child seats and thought “and I made it”? The most recent data from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that child passenger deaths have decreased 43 percent from 2002 to 2011 for children under 12. That improvement is attributed mostly to the fact that children are now buckled up and using appropriate child restraints, including boosters. Despite these statistics, child restraint use among Hispanics is lower than for any other ethnic group for children between the ages of 1 and 7 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
So while the overall trend is positive, you need to be aware of the importance of using a child restraint for every trip. Here are a few of the most recent recommendations to keep you up to speed.
Despite the desire to move your child to a forward-facing orientation for ease-of-travel or so that they can see better, resist as long as you can. A child facing rearward is safer in a crash than one who faces forward. Consumer Reports, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend keeping them that way until they’re 2 years old.
LATCH labeling changes
Did you know that the lower LATCH anchors – the lower bars between the seat cushion and seatback for attaching child seat – have a maximum weight for which they can be used? Once the weight combination of the child and child seats reaches 65 lbs., they need to be installed with the vehicle seatbelt rather than LATCH. New requirements for labeling of child seats will make this transition clearer by showing a maximum weight for LATCH use on each seat. This change will mainly affect forward-facing seats when toddlers are heavy enough for it to apply.
Recent surveys show that parents are only using the top tethers for their forward-facing seats only about half the time. Our testing, and that of others, shows that this simple step can significantly reduce the forward movement of a child in a crash, especially the motion of the head. Reducing that forward movement is critical to avoiding head injuries, the most serious type of injuries for children. Hook up that top tether for all forward-facing installations.
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