Proper Car Seat Use Reduces Injuries

Properly buckling children in age- and size-appropriate car seats and booster seats can help to keep them safe in the event of an auto accident. However, many parents are unaware of current guidelines. According to research, 7 out of 10 children are not properly restrained in their car safety seat. Following are guidelines to help you determine the proper safety seat based on your child’s age:


Proper Car Seat Installation


  • Birth up to age 2: Rear-facing car seat. Children are safest in the car when they are rear facing so it’s recommended that they remain rear facing for as long as possible, or at least until age 2. Check the owner’s manual and/or labels on your seat to determine its max weight and height limits for rear facing.
  • Age 2-5: Forward-facing car seat. When children outgrow the rear-facing position, they should be buckled in a forward-facing car seat in the back seat, until at least age 5, or when they reach the weight and height limit outlined for their particular seat.
  • Age 5+, until the seat belt fits properly: Booster seat. When a child reaches the height and weight limit for their car seat, they should be buckled in a booster seat in the back seat until the seat belt fits properly. A seat belt fits properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs (not the stomach) and the shoulder belt lays across the chest (not the neck).
  • Once the seat belt fits properly without a booster seat: Seat belt. It’s no longer necessary to use a booster seat once the seat belt fits a child properly. It’s recommended that a child’s height measure 57 inches for proper seat belt fit. For the best possible protection keep children buckled in the back seat.


Additional Steps to Improve Your Child’s Safety

  • Have your child’s safety seat inspected. Have your child’s safety seat inspected to insure that it is installed and being used correctly. Most local police and fire departments have a certified inspector on staff. To find a certified inspector near you, visit
  • Don’t seat children in front of an airbag. Buckle all children age 12 and under in the back seat and never place a rear-facing car seat in front of an air bag.
  • Seat children in the middle of the back seat. Buckle children in the middle of the back seat whenever possible. It’s the safest place in the vehicle.
  • Remove your child’s winter coat before buckling them into a car seat. Leaving your child’s coat on creates a gap between your child and their safety harness. In a collision, the harness isn’t as close to your child’s body as it needs to be to properly restrain them.
  • Use proper safety precautions on every trip. Buckle children in car seats, booster seats, or seat belts on every trip – no matter how short.
  • Always wear a seat belt. Set a good example by always wearing your seatbelt. Drivers who don’t wear a seat belt are 23x more likely to have a child who was unrestrained in a car seat.
  • Sign up to receive recall notifications on your car seat. In addition to registering your car seat, sign up to receive e-mail alerts about car seat and booster seat recalls from NHTSA here.