Car seats are designed to keep children in vehicles as safe as possible. While there are many different types of car seats, children first begin using a rear-facing seat.
Until recently, children could move to a forward-facing seat after the age of two. New research shows though, that children should remain rear-facing as long as possible.
The new research was conducted by Dr. Benjamin Hoffman, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Council on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention. He found that using the proper car seat for a child in the car can reduce the risk of death or serious injury by over 70 percent.
Car accidents being fatal for children is not uncommon. Hoffman states that four children under 14 are killed in car accidents every day. To help that number drop, Hoffman suggests children remain rear-facing until they weigh 40 pounds, or whatever the manufacturer’s weight limit is. Depending on the child, this could be the case well after their second birthday, and perhaps even their third.
In addition to this change in the AAP guidelines, there are others as well. These include using safety seats with harnesses for children up to 65 pounds. After a child reaches this weight limit, they should use booster seats in the car until the lap and shoulder seat belt both fit properly. This is typically when a child has reached approximately four feet, nine inches in height.
“The law and recommended use for child seats and car seats have evolved several times throughout the years,” says John L. McCraw, III, of The McCraw Law Group. “These changes are necessary as they help keep children safer on the roads.”
If manufacturers do not comply, and at least warn customers of the risks forward-facing seats can bring, they may be held liable. That was what a manufacturer in Texas discovered when a 20-month-old was involved in a car accident and suffered permanent injury. In that instance, the manufacturer was sued and found responsible for not properly warning of the risks associated with the car seat.