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Children, especially any child that is particularly small in size, will not fit properly in a seatbelt. Cars are designed with seatbelts for people that are 4’9” tall. If you attempt to buckle your child in the seatbelt and they’re smaller than this height, they may fit, but they’re not safe.
If a car accident occurs, the jolting may cause the child to slip out of the seatbelt or get tangled, which can lead to strangulation.
Texas state laws require anyone younger than 8 to ride in a “safety seat system” unless the child is 4’9” or taller. Every state has their own set of laws that dictate the laws surrounding car seats.
Studies conducted by the National Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that 50% of children under the age of 8 that died in automobile accidents were not in a child safety restraint.
A general rule of thumb is that a child should be in some form of a safety seat system until they’re:
- 8 years old, and
- 4’9” or taller, or
- Exceed 80 pounds
Most car seats are rated up to 80 pounds, so children that exceed this weight may need a different restraint.
The age and weight limit may vary from state-to-state. Arkansas requires children under the age of 5 to be in a car seat or booster seat. The state also requires anyone under sixty pounds to be in one of these restraints.
Anyone older than this age and under fourteen must use a seat belt.
It’s always a smart choice to require your older children to wear a seatbelt even if your state laws do not require seatbelt use.
Convertible Car Seats
The restraint type required by law and offering maximum safety will change depending on the stage in the child’s life. Typically, you’ll want to consider a new safety system during the following stages:
- Big kid
A lot of car seat manufacturers have started to release convertible car seats that can be used during the different stages in a child’s life. Chicco, for example, offers a 4-in-1 car seat that meets the requirements of all four stages listed above.
The seat starts off as a rear-facing seat that’s used in the infant and toddler stage. An infant will use the first stage when they’re between 4 and 16 pounds. Toddlers will use the second stage when their weight is between 12 and 40 pounds.
The first two stages are rear-facing models.
Stage three and four are forward-facing models that can be used for kids up to 100 pounds. Each stage provides a better fit for children. The main issue with restraints is that a child that is too skinny or too small will not fit properly in the restraint.
The impact of an accident can cause a restraint to fail or cause injury.
Convertible products allow for a snug fit throughout the child’s different growth stages. Adjusting the type of child seat or booster seat that a child uses increases the safety of the product.
Parents who are alarmed that the leading killer of children between the ages of 2 and 14 is automobile accidents will want to use the proper car seat to reduce the risk of death in a car accident.
Leverage Free Car Seat Check Programs
Car seats need to fit children properly and also be fastened in place properly. If you’re unsure of your fastening or if your child needs another type of car seat, leverage free programs in your area.
Fire departments often allow parents to bring their children into the station and will check the car seat for the parent.
Check with your local fire department or police department to learn about any car seat checks in your area. These checks may be out of the way, but they allow a professional to check and ensure that the car seat is proper for your child.
Otherwise, you may be using a car seat that will not protect your child if you’re in an accident.
A basic check will include:
- Where the clip comes up to on the child’s body
- Anchors that keep the seat in place
- Length and weight of the child
- Recalls on seatbelts and car seats
These free programs add an extra layer of safety for your child that keep children in your neighborhood safe.