Back in the eighties, our parents jammed us into the backseat of the car where seat belts were rare, at best. We sat in the front seat, we helped “drive” from our parent’s lap, we rode in the bed of a pickup truck, and car seats were abandoned as soon as we could walk. These days, parents don’t have it so easy. There are a lot of rules and regulations when it comes to taking your kids in the car, and some of them seem ridiculous in comparison to what it used to be like. However, when it comes to their safety, ridiculousness doesn’t matter.
Even in the past ten years the rules have changed, and the burden on parents is a lot higher. Gone are the days when a brother and sister could fight about who was on whose side of the backseat, because even elder children are still having to ride in car seats if they don’t meet the requirements set forth by the law of the land. Complicated as they may be, the rules are put in place to keep kids safer than we ever were riding shotgun in our parents’ vehicle back in the day.
- 13 and Under – All children under the age of thirteen have to be safely seated in the backseat of the car, with seat belts fastened. The backseat is ultimately safer for kids, because they’re less likely to be harmed by an airbag deploying and they’re also more likely to be protected in the event of a front collision.
- Rear Facing Car Seats – In some states, children under the age of two years are required by law to be in a rear facing car seat. Before, only infants were required to be rear facing, but these days, even your toddler must stay that way if you live in one of the states that dictates it. In EVERY state, a child is required to be rear facing for at least the first six months of their life.
- Shoulder harness – From 6 months to 4 years, children must be restrained in a front or rear facing car seat that has a built in harness style seat belt. If they are over the age of four, it is advised that parents use the child’s size as their guideline for moving up to a different seat. If the child is of a smaller stature, they should remain in the seat that will best protect them
- Boosters – When your child hits the age of four, and they’re of the proper size, they can be transitioned to an approved booster style seat. These seats use the vehicle’s installed seat belts as their securing mechanism, so make sure the child isn’t at risk of being injured by the shoulder strap’s placement before choosing the booster option. Should your child still be under 57 inches when they age out of the booster seat, parents should still consider keeping them in it until they reach that height.
- 145cm or 57 inches – This is the minimum height that is considered safe for children to be placed behind a regular seat belt without the assistance of a booster seat. That’s right, your child must be almost five feet tall in order to not be seriously injured by the placement of a regular seat restraint.
- Keep Calm – When your children reach a certain age, it is of the utmost importance to teach them how to be calm in the car. Loud noises, fighting, and raucous behavior can serve as distractions to the driver, thus putting the child’s life at risk.
Failure to abide by any of these safety regulations could result in a fine for the parents, or much worse. If you consider these rules to be unnecessary and your child is injured as a result of your carelessness, you’ll never be able to forgive yourself. While these stipulations may seem paranoid or outlandish, they’ve been written into law for a reason. Don’t leave your children vulnerable to serious injury in the car if you can help it. Certainly, there is no absolute protection, but parents must do everything in their power to protect their children in the car.