“The car can’t turn on without your seatbelts clicked in!” Does that phrase sound familiar? Perhaps you’ve said something like it to your children. Or maybe you were tricked by that suggestion as a child yourself.
Parents and caregivers often have to find creative ways to make children more agreeable to safety measures. The intention here is pure: protect the child. But what if we didn’t even know that we weren’t protecting them properly? Can you confidently say that you know the child car-seat and seat-belt requirements?
A recent study showed that 96% of parents believe that they have correctly installed their children’s car-seats. This means that 4% of parents know that their car-seat is installed incorrectly.
The solution to this problem is simple. Many companies that sell car-seats will show you how to properly install them in your vehicle, so don’t be afraid to ask! An improperly installed car-seat can lead to serious injury or death in the case of a car accident.
Unfortunately, that high level of confidence is misleading. On average, 72% – 84% of child car-seats or seat-belts show critical misuse. Most often, the seat is not appropriate based on the child’s weight.
Another common misuse includes a loose safety belt attachment, resulting in the car-seat not being firmly locked in place. Furthermore, the harness straps across the child’s chest are frequently too loose. This could result in the child breaking free from the car-seat and being seriously injured.
The Importance of Car-Seats
On the positive side, more parents are focusing their attention on the importance of car-seats and seat-belts than ever before. In 1999 only about 15% of children were using some form of restraint. By 2008 that number jumped to 80%, likely correlating to changes in legislation. In 2013 the rate rose to 91%. This progress is fantastic, considering the fact that the likelihood of injury is reduced by 64% for newborns to 8-year-olds with proper car-seat use.
From the day you bring your baby home until your child’s 12th birthday, you should have some form of child restraint.
The first year of your child’s life should be spent in a rear-facing car-seat. ICBC says there is no rush to switch your baby to a forward-facing position either – one year is the minimum.
Once your child is older than one, and between 20-40 lbs, it is safe to switch to a forward facing seat. After 40 lbs, a booster seat is required until they are approximately nine years old, or 4’9” tall. At this point, a seatbelt is sufficient so long as they remain in the back seat.
ICBC recommends waiting until your child is twelve years old before transitioning them to the front seat of the vehicle.
Finally, it is important to be up-to-date on the latest safety features or recalls of any product you are using. Transport Canada’s website allows you to input the make and model of your car-seat to see if there are any recalls or safety alerts that have been put out. Replacing a car-seat may be expensive, but protecting your child from the risk of injury is priceless.
Road Rules by Dominique McCrimmon and Cedric Hughes