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Basic Car Safety for Children

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Infants: Less than 1 year old

  • Should always ride in the back seat.
  • Should never be placed in front of an active air bag.
  • Should ride in a child safety seat made specifically for infants. This can be an infant-only seat or a convertible car seat.
  • Should only ride in a child safety seat that is facing the rear and is buckled tightly. Make sure the safety seat doesn’t move more than one inch at the seatbelt path.
  • Be sure to check the harness strap tightness so that there is no excess webbing when pinched.
  • Harness straps should be at or below the child’s shoulder when in rear facing direction.
  • Harness retainer clip should be placed at armpit level.

Toddlers: Over age 1 and weighing 20-40 pounds

  • Should ride in the back seat and never in front of an active air bag.
  • Should ride in a child safety seat appropriate for the child’s height and weight.
  • The child safety seat should face the rear of the vehicle until the child reaches the rear-facing upper weight limit of the seat; this can be close to 2 years of age.
  • The child safety seat may face forward in an upright position once the child passes the rear-facing weight limit of the seat, close to 2 years of age.
  • The child safety seat should be buckled tightly in the vehicle and should not move more than one inch at the seatbelt path.
  • Be sure to check the harness strap tightness so there is no excess webbing when pinched.
  • Harness straps should be at or above the child’s shoulders when in forward facing direction.
  • Harness retainer clip should be placed at armpit level.

Children: Under age 8

  • Should always ride in the back seat and never in front of an active airbag.
  • May ride in a fully harnessed seat forward-facing until the child reaches the upper weight limit of the seat. Some fully harnessed seats will accommodate a child up to 65 pounds.
  • Once the child outgrows a forward-facing seat, they should ride in a booster seat until the vehicle seatbelt fits properly.
  • Always use both lap and shoulder belts.
  • Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest (usually at age 8 or when the child is at least 4 feet, 9 inches tall).

Tweens: Ages 9-13

  • Should always ride in the back seat and never in front of an active airbag.
  • Should always use a lap and shoulder belt.
  • The lap belt should be low on the hips, not on the stomach.
  • The shoulder belt should remain on the shoulder, not behind or under the arm.
  • Safety belt should be snug, flat and comfortable on the child.

For proper seat installation instructions, please refer to the owners’ manuals of both the child safety seat and the vehicle. 

To find out more

Safe Kids Fayette County
859-323-1153
ukhealthcare.uky.edu/safekids 

0-1514 Revised: 10/09

Page last updated: 8/13/2014 2:10:58 PM