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Child Car Safety: Protect your Precious Cargo

Updated on: 2/15/2019

Child Car Safety: Do you know how to protect your precious cargo?

A new poll by PEMCO insurance indicates that Washington State drivers are still uncertain about when children can be in the front seat of the car.

Washington is one of the fourteen states with a law that requires children under the age of 13 to ride in the back seat. However, based on the survey, about half of the participants thought that the decision should be based on a child’s height and 21 percent said that weight should be the primary factor in the decision.

What they don’t know, is that by basing the decision on weight and/or height is putting their child at risk.

Drivers in Washington understand and acknowledge that putting a child in the back seat is a good idea, in fact 80 percent of the survey participants knew that putting their child in the backseat until they are 13 is a safety recommendation – yet the survey showed that only 43 percent actually put children in the back seat most or all of the time.

Consequences of Breaking this Law

If you do not follow this child safety law, you are a subject to a ticket, or worse – an injured or killed child in a crash.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, putting your child in the back seat, reduces the chance of injury for kids ages 9 to 12 by 31 percent and by 64 percent for younger kids.

When a child is at about 40 pounds and has outgrown its child seat, the next safety step is a booster seat. In the survey, PEMCO asked motorists about booster seats and found that only 43 percent thought that parents actually follow the guidelines for booster seats and 32 percent think only some parents use them correctly.

New guidelines for children riding in cars were issued in March by the American Academy of Pediatrics, including: rear-facing seats are now required until age 2 or when the height and weight limits are attained; and it is now recommended that booster seats should be used for children until they are at least 4 feet 9 inches tall and 8 to 12 years old.

“New research has found children are safer in rear-facing car seats. A 2007 child car safety study in the journal Injury Prevention showed that children under age 2 are 75 percent less likely to die or be severely injured in a crash if they are riding rear-facing,” American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines stated.

The National Traffic Highway Safety Administration offers these tips for parents and caregivers:

  • Always use a rear-facing seat from birth to 1 year.
  • Keep your child in a rear-facing seat as long as possible from 1 to 3 or until he/she reaches the top height or weight limit.
  • Stay in a front-facing child seat in the back seat from 4 to 7 years, or until he/she reaches the top height or weight limit.
  • Keep your child in a booster seat until he/she is big enough for the seat belt to fit appropriately from 8 to 13 years, meaning the lap belt must fit tightly across the upper thighs. It should not go across the stomach. The belt should securely lie across the shoulder and chest – not the neck or face. 
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