Advice on protecting children, toddlers and infants by putting them in the safest car seat
If a product had an error rate of 75%, you would probably concerned and not buy it.
Unfortunately, many parents don’t know that three out of four car seats are incorrectly installed or improperly sized for their kids.
Car seat safety has been treated as more of a “guessing game” when it comes to judging suitability. A parent sees a package indicating a seat is meant for children between the ages of 8 and 12, so it must work, right?
The question you should be asking is whether your child, regardless of being the right age, is also the intended weight or height. Each type of seat — infant seat, car safety seat and booster seat — all have separate size classes.
So what happens if you get it wrong?
Georgia has certain car seat laws that protect children who don’t yet qualify for seatbelts. Since kids come in all shapes and sizes, it’s always best to consult the state’s resources — along with the seat’s manufacturing instructions — to ensure your child is using the appropriate seat.
Car Seat Regulations in Georgia
The car seat laws in Georgia lay out how parents and supervising adults should choose seats on behalf of children:
Under 1 Year Old
1 - 3 Years Old
4 - 7 Years Old
8 - 18 Years Old
|Less than 20 pounds||Rear-facing car seat||Rear-facing car seat||--|
|21 - 40 pounds||Rear-facing car seat||Rear- or Forward-facing car seat||--|
|40+ pounds, but less than 4' 9"||--||Forward-facing car seat OR booster seat PLUS lap and shoulder belt||Booster seat PLUS lap and shoulder belt OR seatbelt|
|More than 4' 9"||--||Seatbelt|
As an adult and parent, it’s your responsibility to make sure children are safely restrained in a car seat that fits their height and weight class. Georgia has many resources available in their Child Passenger Safety Headquarters, which lists state requirements and provides help for those needing assistance in choosing the right products. There you can also find links to relevant laws, such as the 2011 update to Georgia’s booster seat laws that require children under 8 to sit in a booster seat or car safety seat in Georgia.
Failure by adults to keep children properly restrained can result in fines of up to $50, as well as points on your license for every improperly restrained child in the vehicle. Repeat offenders can expect higher fines.
Families should also keep basic safety requirements in mind. Kids should ride in the back seat of the car for as long as possible, given the many concerns with airbag deployment. An airbag hitting a small child could result in head trauma. This why it’s important to keep your kids safer by sequestering them in the back of the car until they pass the legal requirements and safety recommendations.
Weight, height and age considerations for child car seat safety
Infant car seats, child car safety seats and booster seats reduce the risk of death by 70%. Considering that crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 1 - 12, the use of car seats should be a given. They can cost as little as $15, and they can be inspected and fitted free of charge in various locations throughout Georgia.
A seat belt should cross the passengers shoulders and hips — not the neck and belly. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that 4 out of 10 children under the age of 6 who die or become injured in crashes were improperly restrained.
The takeaway for parents
The moral of the story is for parents and guardians to keep children in each type of car seat for as long as possible. Once your kid has reached the recommended age, weight and height of 4’ 9”, you can rest easier about letting them use an adult seatbelt and eventually getting to sit in the front seat.