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Car Seats and Booster Seats Save Lives

  • Auto accidents are the leading cause of death for children 1 through 12 years old (based on 2007 figures from the National Center for Health Statistics).
  • According to NHTSA, about 9,310 lives have been saved in the last twenty-five years by the proper use of child safety seats.
  • Car seats reduce the chances that an infant (under 1 year old) being killed in a car crash by 71%, and reduce the likelihood to toddlers (1 to 4 years old) by 54% in passenger cars.
  • All 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have laws requiring children to be restrained while riding in cars. Virginia’s laws can be found here.

♦Car seats work best when used correctly.

  • About 75% of all child safety seats are not used correctly
  • In 2009, among children under 5 in passenger vehicles, an estimated 309 lives were saved by restraint use.

Failure to read and carefully follow the installation instructions included with the car seat as well as those in the vehicle owner’s manual can lead to incorrect installation, exposing child passengers to grave risk of serious injury or death in a crash.

♦For maximum child passenger safety, parents and caregivers should visit their local inspection stations and refer to the following guidelines for determining which restraint system is best suited to protect children based on their age and size:

Birth – 12 months

For the best possible protection, your child under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. There are different types of rear-facing car seats: infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and 3-in-1 car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time.

1 – 3 years

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. This may result in many children riding rear-facing to age 2 or older. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.

4 – 7 years

Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it’s time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.

8 – 12 years

Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs.


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