We had been driving for five miles until I felt small little breaths upon my shoulder and a sweet giggle coming from my two year old son.
I shrieked as I couldn’t believe he was out of his car seat, but also because I failed as a parent.
I FORGOT TO BUCKLE HIM!
I safely pulled onto the side of the road and dashed to the other side of the vehicle.
I kissed and hugged him closely; silently thanking nothing terrible had happened.
This scenario isn’t rare as thousands of parents, grandparents and/or babysitters have mistakenly placed a child in their car seat without fastening them; which means thousands of children are at risk when not buckled properly. According to the CDC, more than 650 children under the age of 12 have died in car accidents. Additionally, 1 in three children who died were not buckled in the car at the time of the accident.
Only two out of the fifty states (Wyoming and Tennessee) have child passenger restraint laws that state a child 8 years and younger must be in a car seat or booster seat. These two states, as a result, have more children being buckled up. Among five states that increased the required car seat or booster seat age to 7 or 8 years, car seat and booster seat use tripled, and deaths and serious injuries decreased by 17%.
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In Georgia, all children under the age of eight (8) must be secured in an approved age appropriate child car seat or booster seat while riding in a passenger car, vans and pickup trucks. Below you can find some helpful points regarding Forward, Rear and Booster Seats in the peach state.
Rear Facing Infant Seats
- Children under the age of one (1) should always be secured in a rear facing car seat or infant seat.
- Convertible car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear facing position allowing you to keep your child in the rear facing position for a longer period of time.
- Keep your child in a rear facing seat up to the manufacturer’s recommended limit for height and weight.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the installation and maintenance of a child safety seat.
Forward Facing Car Seats
- A child should stay in a rear facing car seat for as long as the manufacturer’s height or weight limits have not been reached.
- Between the ages of one (1) and three (3) your child may outgrow their rear facing car seat and be ready for a forward facing car seat with a harness.
- Children from four (4) to seven (7) years of age should be kept in a forward facing car seat until they reach the manufacturer’s top height or weight limit for the forward facing car seat.
- Once your child has reached the top weight limit for their seat they are ready for a booster seat.
- A child should be kept in a booster seat until they are big enough to properly fit into a seat belt.
- A lap belt should fit comfortably across the upper thigh, not the stomach.
- The shoulder portion of the belt should cross the shoulder and chest not the face or neck.
- The safest place for your child is the back seat of the vehicle.
Exceptions to the Georgia Car Seat Law
- Children that are under the age of eight (8) who are four-feet, nine inches (4’9”) tall.
- A written statement from a physician stating the physical or medical issues that prevent the child from using standard safety restraints.
- If the vehicle is not equipped with the lap and shoulder belt necessary to properly use a booster seat the child may use a lap belt only.
Please take this information seriously as far too many children have died too young because they weren’t buckled or properly placed in their car seat. No matter how short the drive, always securely fasten your child in their car seat and set an example by always placing your seatbelt on as well. To find out more information regarding child passenger safety, please visit Georgia Governors Office of Highway Safety site.
For more information on this article, feel free to contact Kaine Law.