The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released guidelines for the best method of securing your child while riding in a vehicle.
Up to 12 months
-Always use a rear-facing car seat for any child under age 1.
A rear-facing car seat is the best seat to use for securing very young children. Its harness protects the child in a crash because it cradles and moves with your child. This helps to reduce the stress to the child’s body especially their spinal cord and fragile neck.
1 – 3 years
-Children should be kept in rear-facing seats until they reach the maximum height or weight limit per the car safety seat’s manufacturer. They can then be put in a forward-facing car seat.
The harness and tether in a forward-facing car seat greatly reduces the child’s forward movement during an accident.
4 – 7 years
-Children should be kept in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until they reach the maximum height or weight limit per the car seat’s manufacturer. They can then be put in a booster seat.
A booster seat is the interim step used when a child is too big for a car seat but not big enough to use a seat belt.
8 – 12 years
-Children should be kept in a booster seat until they can fit in a seat belt properly.
An improperly placed seat belt can cause serious injuries. The lap portion of the belt should lie across the upper thighs and never rest on the stomach. The shoulder portion of the belt should be snug across the shoulder and never lay across the neck.
The guidelines from the NHTSA match up pretty well to Maine’s law. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, Maine requires children less than 40 pounds be in a child safety seat. Children 40 to 80 pounds and less than 8 years old must use a safety system (booster seat) that lifts the child high enough so that a seat belt fits properly. Children 11 years of age or younger and weigh less than 100 pounds should ride in the rear seat. The first offense is a $50 fine while subsequent offenses carry a maximum fine of $250.
If you or someone you know has been involved in a Maine car accident, contact an experienced attorney at Peter Thompson & Associates today for a consultation to discuss your rights. Call 1-800-804-2004.