Five myths about car seats and other things you should know about kids in cars

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As part of Child Passenger Safety Week, Safe Kids Austin sponsored a free child car seat inspection in 2007. They will do the same this weekend at Highland Mall. 2007 Ralph Barrera/American-Statesman
As part of Child Passenger Safety Week, Safe Kids Austin sponsored a free child car seat inspection. 2007 Ralph Barrera/American-Statesman;

As part of Child Passenger Safety Week, Safe Kids Austin sponsored a free child car seat inspection. 2007 Ralph Barrera/American-Statesman.

Buckle Up for Life, a national child safety passenger organization, released this list of five myths and the real facts behind them.

I touched on car seat safety in my story about which seat your child should be in. You can read that story here.

Below, I also have my cheat sheet to help you.

MYTH: Used car seats are always okay.
FACT: Car seats have expiration dates.

Hand-me-downs might be convenient, but when it comes to car seats, they’re not worth the risk. If the seat has been through a crash, it might be compromised. Additionally, the plastic can degrade over time. If you do have a used car seat, know its history and check the expiration date, which can usually be found on a sticker affixed to the seat and on the registration card.

MYTH: Older kids can sit in the front seat.

FACT:  Kids under 13 are safest in the back.

Many think that once their children outgrow their car seats or booster seats, the front seat is fair game.  However, the truth is that all children under age 13 are safest in the back seat.

 MYTH: Seat belts alone protect small children.

FACT: Children shorter than 4 foot 9 inches need booster seats.

Seat belts don’t properly fit young children and can ride up around their waists or necks, potentially causing injury during a crash. Children less than 4 foot 9 inches should sit in booster seats, which elevate them so that seat belts can protect them correctly.

MYTH: A one year old can ride in a forward-facing car seat. 

FACT: Children should be rear-facing until age 2.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children should remain in rear-facing car seats until age 2, or until they exceed the height or weight limit for the car seat. According to a study by the University of Virginia, children under age 2 are 75 percent less likely to die or to be severely injured in a crash if they are rear-facing.

MYTH: Expensive car seats are safer than others.

FACT: All approved car seats are equally safe.

All car seat manufacturers are required to meet the same performance standards issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  Some seats may be more expensive than others based on fabric, padding or other bells and whistles, but that doesn’t mean they are any safer.

WHERE’S THE SAFEST PLACE FOR YOUR PASSENGERS?

Where should your child be in the car? Don Tate II Austin American-Statesman

Where should your child be in the car?
Don Tate II Austin American-Statesman

Keep the youngest in the middle of the car and have the right kind of car seat for each passenger based on age and weight.

1. A teenager or an adult can ride in the front seat with a seat belt on. The safest place is still the back seat.

2. An infant must be in a rear-facing car seat.

3. Adult drivers must wear seat belts.

4. Children younger than age 2 should be in rear-facing car seats.

5. A 4- to 7-year-old should sit in a high-back booster seat until he reaches the upper weight and/or height limit for the seat.

6. A 2- to 4-year-old should ride in a forward-facing car seat until he reaches the upper weight and/or height limit for the seat.

7. An 8- to 12-year-old less than 4 feet 9 inches can be in a high-back booster or a low-back booster used with the car’s adjustable head rest until he reaches the upper weight and/or height of the seat.


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