Safe driving is always important, but just as important is making sure your younger passengers are seated and using the right child restraints in your vehicle. If you were to get in an accident, a child who is not properly buckled in is much more likely to withstand major injuries.

Children are safest when they ride in the back seat in the right restraint for their age and size, until they are big enough for adult safety belts to fit properly. That means starting out in a rear-facing restraint before moving up to a forward-facing restraint and then a booster seat.

A rear-facing child restraint is best for babies and young children, and should be used until at least the age of 2. However, for the best protection it is recommended to keep your child in a rear-facing restraint until they grow too big for the weight or height limit.

Once a child outgrows a rear-facing restraint, a forward-facing child restraint should be used. These car seats can be used from ages 2 to 7, but again it is safest to keep the child in this restraint until they outgrow the weight and height limitations.

Children too big for child restraints should then use belt-positioning booster seats until an adult seat belt fits correctly. For some children, this could be until age 12. Find a booster seat that fits best for your individual child – the should belt should be snug across the center of the shoulder, and the lap belt should lie flat across the upper thighs.

To test if your child is ready to use an adult safety belt, the child should be able to keep their back against the seat, with their knees naturally bent over the seat edge and their feet flat on the floor. A booster seat should be used until a child is able to meet these conditions. Remember – even if your child is ready to use an adult safety belt, they should sit in the back seat until they are at least 13 years old.

Information found in this article courtesy of The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

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