Today, I saw a child less than 2 years old, not only not in a child car seat (there wasn't even one in the car) but sitting on the floor of the front seat as the car went into gear! Really, people?! (see below on how to report such an incident)
Most people know that infants must be in a car seat, most hospitals won't allow the baby to leave until one is present. But what after that? When I was a kid, I surely wasn't in a car seat long. A lot of people just don't know.
So, since I don't want my husband pulling your child out of a smashed up car....I want to share the laws and recommendations.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents, "Keep your child in a car safety seat for as long as possible. When your child is big enough, make sure the seat belts in your vehicle fit your child correctly. The shoulder belt should lie across the chest, not the neck or throat. The lap belt must be low and snug across the thighs, not the stomach. In addition, the child should be tall enough to sit against the vehicle seat back with her legs bent at the knees and feet hanging down. Seat belts are made for adults. If the seat belt does not fit your child correctly, she should stay in a booster seat until the adult seat belt fits. This is usually when the child reaches about 4' 9" in height and is between 8 to 12 years of age."
General guidelines include:
Infants---In a rear-facing, infant car seat until the child is at least 1 year of age and 20lbs.
Toddlers--Can be in forward-facing convertible or other car seat with 5-point harness (most manufacturers recommend staying in a 5-point harness until the child is 40lbs).
School-age children--Can be in a booster-style seat until they are 80lbs, 4"9', and/or 8-12 years old. (my children have not moved into a booster seat until they are at least 40lbs, in elementary school, and can buckle themselves in and out---this is my personal preference).
In Illinois....the Child Passenger Protection Act states:
- A child under eight years old must be secured in a child safety seat. However, if the vehicle is equipped with lap belts only in the back seat, a child weighing more than 40 pounds may be transported in the back seat wearing a lap belt only.
- A child between the ages of 8 and 17 must be secured in a seat belt or child safety seat.
- Children between the ages of 16 and 17 must wear seat belts when they are riding in vehicles driven by people under the age of 18.
Check out your local laws to make sure you are in compliance.
The Children's Hospital of Illinois has designed a program that makes traveling safer for children. The Be A Buckle Buddy! toll-free hotline, 1-888-800-2642, allows the public to call anonymously when they notice an unrestrained child in a motor vehicle and leave a message, including where the incident was observed, date and license plate number of the vehicle involved. The vehicle owner receives follow-up information in the mail from the safety team regarding the dangers to unrestrained children and a list of resources. This public service is provided by the Children's Hospital of Illinois, The Tazewell County Sheriff's Department and Peoria Area Safe Kids.
Be a Buckle Buddy Hotline:
1-888-800-2642 Toll Free (Verizon Customers in Illinois may dial #333)