With the onset of fall and winter inclement weather, it is a good time to review the guidelines for seatbelt use. Seatbelt safety is a cornerstone of child safety that has become ingrained in American culture. Childhood and infant mortality has dropped since parents began following recommendations to keep infants and small children in the back seats with infants facing rearward until they are two years old.
Always remember to buckle up your children and yourself before moving in an automobile. Please see below for recommendations from www.safecar.gov provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Birth – 12 Months
A child under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. There are different types of rear-facing car seats: Infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and 3-in-1 car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time.
1 – 3 Years
Keep your child rear-facing in the back seat as long as possible. It’s the best way to keep him or her safe. Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.
4 – 7 Years
Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it’s time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.
8 – 12 Years
Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face. Remember: your child should still ride in the back seat because it’s safer there.
In addition to keeping your child safe by following the recommendations above, know the Missouri car seat laws:
- A child less than four years old or weighing less than 40 pounds must be secured in a child passenger restraint system appropriate for the child.
- A child over four years of age, but less than eight years of age, who also weighs between 40 and 80 pounds and is less than 4’9″ tall, must be secured in a child passenger restraint system or booster seat appropriate for that child.
- Children 8 years old and older at least 80 pounds, or children more than 4’9″ tall, are required to be secured by an appropriate vehicle safety belt or booster seat.