Child Passenger Safety Seat System
The move from having car seats in the front passenger seat to having them in the back seat, facing backwards, may make it easier for a busy, distracted parent to leave an infant in the car. Each year, between 30 and 50 infants die of heat illness and hypothermia in the United States after being left in a car.
A study of car crash data from 16 U.S. states found that children under the age of 3 were 43% less likely to be injured in a car crash if their car seat was fastened in the center of the back seat rather than on one side. Results were based on data from 4,790 car crashes involving children aged 3 and younger between 1998 and 2006. According to data, the center position was the safest but least used position. However, economist Steven Levitt (see below) has demonstrated that car seats do not reduce fatalities when compared to regular seat belts.
In 1990, the ISO standard ISOFIX was launched in an attempt to provide a standard for fixing car seats into different makes of car. The standard now includes a top tether; the U.S. version of this system is called LATCH. Generally, the ISOFIX system can be used with Groups 0, 0+ and 1.
A safety seat increases the safety of a properly restrained child in the case of a motor vehicle accident. The safety seat includes foam padding, fabric covers, a harness, and buckles or attaching mechanisms. Labels and instructions are also attached. Every child safety seat will have an expiration date on it. The Safe Kids USA organization does not recommend using a child safety seat that is more than 6 years old. Periodically, child safety seats are recalled by manufacturers for safety reasons. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration posts a link to recent recall information at nhtsa.gov.
(a) A person commits an offense if the person operates an open-bed pickup truck or an open flatbed truck or draws an open flatbed trailer when a child younger than 18 years of age is occupying the bed of the truck or trailer.
For young infants, the seat used is an infant carrier with typical weight recommendations of 5-20 lb. Most infant seats made in the US can now be used up to at least 22 pounds (10.0 kg) and 29 inches (74 cm), with some going up to 35 pounds (16 kg). In the past, most infant seats in the US went to 20 pounds (9.1 kg) and 26 inches (66 cm). Infant carriers are often also called "Bucket Seats" as they resemble a bucket with a handle. Some (but not all) seats can be used with the base secured, or with the carrier strapped in alone. Some seats do not have bases. Infant carriers are mounted rear-facing and are designed to "cocoon" against the back of the vehicle seat in the event of a collision, with the impact being absorbed in the outer shell of the restraint. Rear-facing seats are deemed the safest, and in the US children must remain in this position until they are at least 1 year of age and at least 20 pounds (9.1 kg). although it is recommended to keep them rear-facing until at least 2 years old or until they outgrow the rear-facing car seat height and weight, whichever is longer.