Although car seats and various safety mechanisms designed to protect children have come a long way in recent decades, parents still have a role to play. After all, a child can’t be protected during a collision if they’re not using the very systems that are supposed to offer that protection.
Newly released statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlight just how large this problem is. 650 kids younger than 12 lost their lives in a collision in 2011, the most recent year that data is available. Of those, roughly one in three were not using the appropriate seat belt or car seat when the crash took place. This is despite the fact that overall fatalities among the same demographic were actually reduced in the preceding decade.
The best thing that parents can do to further promote safety is to use the appropriate buckling system, depending of course on the child’s age. The CDC offers guidelines on how to ensure proper usage. Rear-facing is the way to go until the child turns two and/or reaches the appropriate height plateau. The transition must then be made to forward facing, and once the child is over those limits, a booster seat should be a necessity until the child is around 57 inches in height.
If you’re using these, make sure to use them every single time, no matter how long or short the trip.