Parents: If You Don’t Buckle Up, Your Kids Probably Won’t
By Lynn Fugaro, Staff Writer
Most of us know what the saying “The acorn doesn’t fall from the tree means,” and it seems to apply to many things including the habit of buckling a seatbelt. Studies have shown that parents who don’t buckle their seatbelts are less likely to encourage their children to buckle up, and as those kids grow up, the habit of not buckling up while driving and riding in a car seems to stick.
Studies have also shown that, simply put, seatbelts save lives. If you’re a parent who is in the habit of not buckling up yourself or your children before heading off to school, errands, or the big game, you may want to reconsider this potentially dangerous habit. It really just takes a few seconds to fasten a seatbelt, and a bit longer to ensure young children are securely fastened into their seats in the back seat of the car. Just taking a few extra moments before starting out on your trip may just save the life of someone you love.
Seatbelts Save Lives
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2016, seatbelt use in passenger vehicles saved an estimated 14,660 lives, and another 2,456 lives could have been saved if the seatbelts had been fastened. According to the same report, approximately 90% of all Americans use their seatbelts on a regular basis, leaving about 27 million people still not buckling up on a daily basis. More than half of teenagers ages 13-19 who died in car accidents in 2015 were not wearing seatbelts. You really can’t argue with statistics like this. It’s clear that wearing a seatbelt can mean the difference between your child surviving a car crash and not surviving that crash.
Car Seats for Small Children
When children are younger (infants and toddlers), it’s important to secure them into the proper car seat, which is based on size and age. Infants and toddlers require rear-facing only car seats until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer’s indications.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), “Parents should put infants and toddlers in the back seat in rear-facing car seats as long as possible, at least until they’re around 2 years old or too large or heavy to fit in that position.” After that, children should remain in the back of vehicles in front-facing car seats until they reach the weight and height limits for those seats. Many car seat manufacturers indicate that their car seats can work until kids weigh about 65 pounds.
Toddlers and pre-schoolers (depending on height and weight) will use forward-facing car seats with a harness. School-aged children will sit in booster seats; a belt-positioning booster seat should be used until the car’s seat belt fits properly. This usually happens when the child reaches four feet nine inches tall and is 8-12 years of age. All children under the age of 13 should ride in the back seat of the car.
Please use these guidelines if you’re not sure if your school-aged child should be in a car seat with a seat belt, in the passenger seat next to you, or in the back seat using just a seat belt. Taking the time to secure your children in the car before starting out will teach them good habits and maybe even save their lives.