Be a good role model.
Make sure you always wear your seat belt. Everyone in the vehicle must be properly secured, either by a seat belt, a car seat or booster seat with a lap and shoulder belt.
Read both the car seat instructions and the vehicle owner's manual before installing a car seat. Always check the weight and height limits of a car seat.
All children under 13 should ride in a back seat.
When installing your child's car seat place your weight on the car seat and lock the seat belt/LATCH according to the instructions located in the vehicle owner's manual. Check the installation for tightness before each use. Allow no more than 1 inch of side-to-side or forward movement at the belt path.
Infants should ride-rear facing and semi-reclined to no more than 45 degrees, until age 2 or until the maximum weight or height allowed by the car seat manufaturer. Children younger that 1 year should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. Remember: NEVER place a rear-facing infant car seat in front of an active passenger side air bag.
The harness is placed in the slots at or below the shoulders for rear-facing child safety seats. Tighten the harness until it lies in a relatively straight line without any slack or sagging but not so tight as to press into the child's body causing discomfort. Adjust the harness retainer clip to armpit level (following manufacturer instructions).
Toddlers ride forward-facing and upright once they outgrow the rear-facing car seat. Children should stay in the forward-facing child safety seat with a harness up to the highest weight or height allowed by the car seat manufacturer. Place the harness through the reinforced slots on the child safety seat (following manufacturer instructions). Tighten the harness until it lies in a relatively straight line without any slack or sagging but not so tight as to press into the child's body causing discomfort. Place the harness retainer clip at armpit level.
NHTSA recommends that all children who have outgrown child safety seats be properly restrained in a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle's lap and shoulder belt fits properly, typically when the child is approximately 4 feet 9 inches tall and between 8 and 12 years of age. Use a belt-positioning booster seat with a lap and shoulder belt properly adjusted over the hips and shoulder to correctly fit the child.
Children should stay in a belt-positioning booster seat until the lap and shoulder belt fit them correctly.
For children who have outgrown their belt-positioning booster seat and all passengers including adults, it is important to use a properly positioned safety belt. Properly positioned means that the shoulder belt is across the center of the chest and shoulder and the lap belt is lowand snug across the hips. NEVER place the shoulder belt behind the back or under the arm. The safety belt will properly fit a child when:
- The child can sit with their back and buttocks against the vehicle seat back without slouching.
- The child's knees bend at the front edge of the vehicle seat with their feet flat on the floor.
- The shoulder belt is positioned properly across the center of the chest and collarbone.
- The lap belt is low and snug across the child's hips/upper thighs.
- The child will stay comfortably seated this way for the entire trip.
- Never leave your child alone in a car, even for a minute.
BUCKLE UP EVERY TIME, EVERY RIDE!
Safety Advice for Older Children
- Involve "pre-teens" in family discussions about safety in all motor vehicles.
- Teach children that safety belts save lives and that an unbuckled passenger is likely to injure others.
- Make sure the shoulder belt fits correctly across the center of the chest and collarbone, and the lap belt remains low and snug across the hips/upper thighs, and that good posture is maintained.
- Make sure that other drivers have the same rules as you do and enforce them in their vehicles if car-pooling.
- Involve your children in family discussions and setting of "house and car rules." Discuss who the children are allowed to ride in a car with, when a child should refuse a ride, and that buckling up is required.
- Properly secure all loose objects before driving. In a crash, they may cause injury if they hit a vehicle occupant.