Car Seat, Booster Seat, and Seat Belt Safety Tips
It is far too easy for a child to die in a car crash. Children's bodies have little protection against the tremendous forces caused when cars collide, even at low speed. The safest way to protect children against being hurt is to transport them in a child safety seat in the rear seat of the car. By making sure that your children are properly restrained each time you travel, you provide the best possible protection from death or serious injury in the event of a crash. Show your children how much you love them: buckle them up for every trip.
Every car seat and vehicle are different – always read the manual for both your child’s seat and your vehicle. Contact a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) for assistance by using either the Find a Tech Tool or emailing [email protected].
How to install a car seat or booster seat and how to buckle a child correctly
How to Use a Car Seat:
Selection, Direction, Location, Harness, and Installation
Did You Know?...
- When they are used correctly, car seats, booster seats, and seat belts greatly reduce the risk of injuries and death for children in crashes.
- Most crashes occur close to home – every passenger in a vehicle should be buckled correctly every time.
- At only 30 miles per hour, a child weighing 10 pounds would require 300 pounds of restraining force to be safely contained by the harness in their car seat in a crash. A 30-pound child traveling at 10 miles per hour would require the same amount of restraining force in their car seat.
- Car seats and booster seats have specific instructions from the manufacturer, including minimum and maximum guidelines for a child’s age, height, and weight. You should always read the instruction manual for your child’s seat and the owner’s manual for your vehicle.
- All car seat and booster seat manufacturers have a customer service number on their car seat or booster seat. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to call and ask questions about their seat.
- Three out of four car seats are not installed correctly. Visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s page for more information on use and installation: https://www.nhtsa.gov/equipment/car-seats-and-booster-seats
- Best practice transportation recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP):
- Rear-Facing: Children should ride rear-facing for as long as possible – until they reach the maximum height or weight limit allowed by the car seat manufacturer. Rear-facing is the safest way a child can ride and there is no increased risk for foot, ankle, or leg injuries for children who rear-face longer.
- Forward-Facing: Children can transition to a forward-facing seat with a five-point harness once they have reached the maximum height or weight limit of their rear-facing seat as specified by the car seat manufacturer.
- Booster Seat: Children should transition to a booster seat only after they have reached the maximum height or weight limit of their forward-facing seat with a five-point harness. When buckled, the lap portion of the seat belt should sit on the hip bones, not the abdomen, and the shoulder portion should lie on the shoulder, not the neck.
- Seat Belt: Seat belts are designed to fit adults. Children should use their booster seat until they can pass the 5-Step Fit Test as long as they do not exceed the maximum height or weight for their booster. The 5-Step Fit Test instructions can be found here: https://carseat.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/6307-31-16.pdf. Parents and caregivers should perform this test in every vehicle in which the child rides – seat belts will fit differently in different vehicles.
- Children should ride in the back seat until they are 13 years of age to avoid an increased risk of air bag injuries.
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Page last updated: 1/03/2023