Child Car Seat Safety

Car Seat Safety

Did you know that motor vehicle crashes are the number one killer of children ages two to 14? We already have the cure: a properly installed child safety seat that is used seat every time a child rides in your vehicle. 

Children ages 4 to 12 are the most at risk for injury during a crash. When children ages four to 12 use booster seats, they are 59% less likely to be injured than children restrained only by a safety belt. 

Vermont Children’s Hospital at Fletcher Allen, under the Community Health Team, offers car seat inspections and outreach. For an inspection, call 802-847-2278. To set up educational presentations or other outreach within Chittenden County, call 802-847-1215 or email Ann Weinstein at ann.weinstein@vtmednet.org.

The statewide BeSeatSmart Program also offers safety seats at a reduced price to parents who cannot afford to purchase an appropriate car seat. Income eligibility is determined by receipt of federal or state aid.

For maximum child passenger safety, simply remember and follow the Four Steps for Kids

Stage 1: Rear facing seats — Use rear-facing seats in the back seat from birth until your child is at least one year of age AND weighs at least 20 pounds.  Both milestones must happen before turning the car seat to face forward. We recommend rear facing car seats until the child is at least age 2, because it is 500% safer than when the seat faces forward.

Stage 2: Forward facing seats — Use forward-facing car seats in the back seat from the time children outgrow the rear-facing weight limit of the car seat until they outgrow their forward-facing car seat. Outgrowing the seat happens when the child’s shoulders grow over the top harness slots or the child outgrows the forward-facing weight limit. Many seats now have high weight harnesses, but you should check your seat for limits. 

Stage 3: Booster seats — Use booster seats in the back seat from the time the child outgrows the forward-facing car seat. A child that is age four AND weighs 40 pounds is the minimum age and weight at which a child should go into a booster seat.  Staying in a booster seat until age five or six is safer due to bone development in the hips.  Use boosters until you determine the child has passed the 5-step test below and is able to use a seat belt. 

Step 4: Seat belts — Use seat belts in the back seat after you determine the child has passed the five-step test below.  Vermont Law says that to sit in the adult belt, children must be both eight years old AND fit properly. All children age 13 or younger should always ride in the back seat.

The 5-Step test: Is your child ready for a seat belt?

  1. Does the child sit all the way back against the auto seat? 
  2. Do the child's knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat?
  3. Does the belt cross the shoulder between the neck and arm?
  4. Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?
  5. Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip? 

If any of these questions are answered “no,” the child should remain in the booster seat, regardless of age. Different boosters have different sizes, so when shopping for a booster seat, have your child sit in different seats until you find one that fits him or her. 

Remember, the best seat is one that fits your car, your child, your budget and that you will use correctly every time you drive. For more information on passenger seat safety, visit these helpful links: 

For more information or if you have questions, call Ann Weinstein, Child Passenger Safety Technician, at 802-847-1215, or send an email to ann.weinstein@vtmednet.org


Related Documents

Child Safety Seat Check Up Tips - National Safety Council Download PDF
Car Seat Safety Stage 1 Download PDF
Car Seat Safety Stage 2 Download PDF
Car Seat Safety Stage 3 Download PDF
Car Seat Safety Stage 4 Download PDF


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