Child Car Seat Safety System
Booster seats lift the child and allow the seat belt to sit firmly across the collar bone and chest, with the lap portion fitted to the hips. If the seat belt is not across the collar bone and the hips, it will ride across the neck and the stomach and cause internal injuries in the event of a collision.
Every car seat needs to be installed using either the lower anchors or a seat belt to secure it in place, never both. If you choose to use a seat belt to install your car seat, pay close attention to how to “lock” your seat belt according to the vehicle’s owner manual. With a forward-facing car seat, use a tether if one is available. Before installing your car seat make sure you understand the function and location of the vehicle and car seat parts that are used in installation.
Other car seats, also known as "booster seats," are required until the child is large enough to use an adult seat belt. This is usually, but not always, when the child is 1.49 (4ft 9in) tall. The child needs to meet five criteria before moving out of the booster seat, including the child's seating position, shoulder belt position, lap belt position, knee position, and ability to sit properly for the length of the trip.
Convertibles aren't considered the best choice for a newborn because the bottom harness slots are often above the shoulders of most newborns. A seat with low bottom harness slots can be used if it is desired to use a convertible from birth.
Children riding rear-facing may use a rear-facing only car seat or a convertible car seat installed rear-facing. Always follow the car seat manufacturers harnessing instructions and height and weight limitations for a rear-facing installation.
Keep your child rear-facing 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 and tether.
Your child is counting on you to protect him or her! Make sure your child always rides safely in your car. In addition, prepare older children to “think safety” if they are ever in a car where no car seat or booster seat is available.
Child restraints are sometimes the subject of manufacturing recalls. Recalls vary in severity; sometimes the manufacturer will send an additional part for the seat, other times they will provide an entirely new seat.
Congratulations—you chose the right car seat and installed it correctly. Now it’s time to register your car seat with the manufacturer to receive recalls and safety notices so your child can remain safe. Also, you can sign up with NHTSA to receive e-mail alerts about car seat and booster seat recalls.
Straps on the harness should be snug on the child, parents should not be able to pinch the straps away from the shoulders of the child. The straps also need to be placed at the proper height for the child.