Car Seat Safety

Did you know that motor vehicle crashes are the number one killer of children ages 2-14 ? If we had a disease causing this many deaths, we’d be up in arms demanding a vaccine.

For crashes, we don’t need a vaccine – we already have the cure - a properly installed and used child safety seat every time a child rides in your vehicle. Children ages 4-12 are the most at risk.

When children ages 4-12 use booster seats they are 59% less likely to be injured than children restrained only by a safety belt. For any questions about child passenger safety call 1-888-VMT-SEAT. We will return your call within 48 hours.

Fletcher Allen, under the Community Health Team, now offers car seat inspections and outreach. For an inspection, call 802-847-2278. To set up educational presentations or other outreach within Chittenden County, please call 802-847-1215 or email Ann Weinstein.

The 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. Appropriate restraints for children change as they grow.

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

1. Use rear-facing infant seats in the back seat from birth to at least one year of age AND at least 20 pounds. Both milestones must happen before turning forward – longer is safer and we recommend rear facing until age 2. 

2. 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. Check your seat for limits.

3. Use booster seats in the back seat from the time the child outgrows the forward facing car seat. Age 4 AND 40 lbs. are the minimum age and weight at which a child should go into a booster. Use boosters until the child passes the 5-step test to sit in the seat belt.


The 5-step test

    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 as “no”, a child should remain in the booster, regardless of age. Different boosters have different sizes. Sit your older child in different seats until you find one that fits him or her.

4. Use safety belts in the back seat. Vermont Law says that to sit in the adult belt, children must be 8 years old AND fit properly. See the 5 step test above for proper fit. All children age 13 or younger should ride in the back seat.

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:

Child Safety Seat Check Up Tips (National Safety Council)

Safe Kids National Highway Safety Council

For more information on child passenger safety programs in Chittenden County, call Ann Weinstein, Child Passenger Safety Technician, at (802) 847-1215 or email

Related Documents

Child Safety Seat Check Up Tips - National Safety Council Download PDF

Note: Adobe Acrobat Reader is needed to view PDF documents