Kids and Car Seats - Child Passenger Safety Week

Let's talk about car seats, booster seats, and our kids.

My daughters are 9 and 6 and both sit in booster seats in the BACK SEAT of our minivan (OK, technically it's the middle row of the van, but they are not in front seat). Olivia, the oldest, is 53 inches tall, which makes her about 4' 5" tall. And yes, she's still IN a booster seat.

Both girls were in 5-point harness car seats until they no longer fit in those seats, because that was the safest seat for them (in my mind, at least). My girls are very "light" (read: thin) and I knew that while Olivia's friends in 2nd grade might be transitioning into a booster, there was no way her body weight could hold it down safely. (Because, unlike car seats boosters don't latch onto anything.)

We finally allowed Liv to switch to a booster sometime near the end of second grade. Emma is currently in first grade and sits in a booster, but she had grown out of her 5-point harness car seat sooner than Liv did - by height and weight.

So why am I telling you this?

Because my sister called this morning to tell me about what she's seeing in the school drop off line - kids as young as third grade sitting in the FRONT SEAT of their parent's car, rather than sitting in the back seat, in a booster.

I have to wonder WHY these parents think it's OK for their 8 year old child to sit in the front seat of the car?

I was planning on writing a blog post about this anyway, but then I received an email from Bloggy Moms letting me know about a Twitter party tomorrow in support of "Child Passenger Safety Week" - which just happens to be THIS WEEK.

So let me give you a few stats from that email:
- in 2011, more than 1/3 of children killed in car crashes were not in car seats or wearing seat belts
- car seats reduce the risk of a fatal injury in a car crash by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers

Why then would a parent choose to not have their child in the proper car seat for their age, weight, and height?

I looked up Ohio's Booster Seat Law. It states that children in Ohio are required to use belt-positioning booster seats once they outgrow their child safety seats (usually at 4 years old and 40 pounds) until they are 8 years old, unless they are at least 4 feet 9 inches tall (57 inches tall). And kids under the age of 13 should ALWAYS ride in the back seat. Always.

Let's repeat that: Ohio's revised child restraint law requires the following - Children less than 4 years old or 40 pounds MUST use a child safety seat. Children less than 8 years old, unless they are 4 feet 9 inches tall, MUST use a booster seat. Children 8 to 15 years old must use a child safety seat or seat belt. If you don't follow the law, fines will range from $25 to a maximum of $75 per occurrence.

If you're wondering WHY kids under 4'9" tall should be using a booster, it's because seat belts are NOT designed for kids under that height. Why then would any parent risk the safety of their child - who is under the age of 13 and under 4 feet 9 inches tall? Even if you're in a hurry to get to school, PUT THE KIDS IN THE PROPER SEATS.  

I've found a few resources if you have questions about car seats, booster seats, and kids.

If you want to have your car seat inspected to make sure it's attached properly, visit the Car Seat Inspection Station Locator. This Saturday is National Seat Check Saturday and you can use the locator to find additional Child Passenger Safety Week events.

If you are looking for information on the what car seat is best for your child(ren), visit safecar.gov's Parent Central site. There is an entire page dedicated to car seats, including a car seat recommendation chart.

If you want to see Ohio's Child Passenger Safety Laws, check this out. Or this. And then there's this.

And if you aren't in Ohio, you can find your state's child passenger laws here.

This is not a sponsored post of any kind and I am in no way an expert in this. I simply wanted to pass on some valuable information in light of the fact that is week is Child Passenger Safety Week.

I'll be participating in a Twitter party tomorrow sponsored by Bloggy Moms and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to learn more about car seat and booster seat safety. You can follow NHTSA on Twitter and Facebook watch for the hashtag #therightseat.

image from NHTSA

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