Big, clunky car seats may seem cumbersome and inconvenient to deal with at times. Add on top your child’s complaints about having to stay buckled and you may feel tempted to not enforce the whole thing.
However, evidence supports the importance of a car seat to protect your child from serious injuries in a car accident. When properly restrained, the risks of injury or death drop substantially.
Even though a lot of people talk about age as a big determining factor for whether or not your child needs a car seat, your child’s size and weight are a much safer indicator. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children typically need car seats through age 12. The risks of crash injuries drop 71-82% for properly restrained children.
Your child should never sit in the front seat or near an airbag. You should properly secure any cargo to prevent it from flying through the cabin during an accident. Teach your children about safe behavior while you drive. For example, encourage them to avoid erratic behavior and to never unbuckle while in motion.
Set an example of fastening your seatbelt. You might even consider making it a game to see who can buckle the fastest. Invest in a car seat that works in your vehicle. Follow all manufacturer guidelines to properly install the seat. Periodically check the security of the seat. If you do get in an accident, make sure to replace the restraint. Even if it appears okay on the outside, components you cannot see might have loosened or weakened upon impact.
Spending enough time and money to get your child a safe car seat could ultimately save a life. The uncertainty of driving might dissipate when you feel confident about your child’s safety.