News Center Maine is reporting that new federal car-seat guidelines are aimed at saving lives. The American Academy of Pediatrics’ updated guidelines now urge parents to leave their children in rear-facing car seats for as long as possible.
AAP reports using the correct car seat or booster seat can decrease risk of death or serious injury by 70 percent in the event of a collision. Previous guidelines recommended keeping children in a rear-facing seat until the age of 2. But newer, stronger car seats and continuing data on their effectiveness at reducing child mortality, prompted safety advocates to abolish the age limit.
Our car accident lawyers in Bangor and Portland know these seats have saved many lives. Still, motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for those ages 4 to 24. Your child is more likely to die in a motor-vehicle accident than by any other means. It’s a sobering statistic and a good safety reminder as we head into the busy fall holiday season and the return of winter weather.
Federal Car Seat Guidelines:
- Leave your child in a rear-facing seat as long as possible, until they outgrow the seat’s height and weight limits. This will likely increase the practical age from 2 to 4 years of age.
- Once in a forward-facing car seat, a child should use the seat until reaching its height and weight limit, which is typically 60 pounds or more.
- Older children should use a booster seat until the can fit properly in the lap belt and shoulder harness.
- All children under the age of 13 should be restrained in the rear seats of a vehicle (not in the front seat, where they face higher risk of airbag injuries).
The Maine Department of Public Safety reports as many as 3 of every 4 children is not properly restrained, and some are not restrained at all. While compliance among infants and small children has improved in recent years, authorities say older children are still not properly secured in far too many collisions. While some installation methods use the vehicle’s seatbelt, since September 2002 almost all car seats have been manufactured with a LATCH system. Parents can use whichever system they understand thoroughly; however, you should never attempt to combine methods by using both the seat belts and the LATCH system.
Maine Bureau of Highway Safety offers free seat fitting safety stations throughout the state and follows the federal guidelines. In addition to making sure they are using the seat properly, parents should also beware of car-seat recalls. The U.S. Department of Transportation has issued dozens of car-seat recalls in recent years.
We encourage you to take a moment this fall to check your child’s car seat to ensure it’s in good condition and installed properly. It’s the best step you can take to help keep them safe as we approach the return of winter weather and the year-end holiday season.
If you are injured in a car accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-490-5218 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
New child passenger safety seat guidance advises kids to ride rear-facing as long as possible; drops age criterion, Aug. 30, 2018, American Academy of Pediatrics
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