When I was growing up, car seats were for babies and toddlers. And when we grew out of our car seats, sometimes we didn’t even wear seatbelts.
But things are very different these days.
Not only are there strict guidelines and car seat safety events, but organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) say grown children who are almost teenagers should be in booster seats.
The latest in car safety seat regulations state that children should stay in rear-facing car seats as long as possible to protect their developing heads, necks, and spines during a crash, according to ABC News.
The Academy of Pediatrics previously recommended rear-facing car seats up until the age of 2.
“It’s best to keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. This is still the safest way for children to ride,” Dr. Benjamin Hoffman, lead author of the AAP policy statement and chair of the AAP council on injury, violence and poison prevention, said.
It’s recommended that parents keep their kids in these rear-facing seats until they reach the maximum height and weight limits posted on their car seat’s labels and manuals.
After that, they say your kid should be put into the next phase of a car seat or booster seat.
The most common cause of death in children under the age of 15 is unintentional injury and the most common cause of unintentional injury is car accidents.
About 11 children per week or 2,885 died of car crashes between 2010 and 2014.
Most of these kids weren’t wearing seatbelts.
About 43 percent were unrestrained or weren’t properly restrained and 15 percent were sitting inappropriately in the front seat, while 13 percent were riding in cars driven by someone under the influence of alcohol, according to New York Times.
Safe Kids Worldwide says that the risk of death or serious injury in a car accident can decrease by 70 percent when kids are properly restrained in a car seat.
“Every month that a child rides rear-facing a little bit longer gives more time for the head, neck, and spine to develop,” Kerry Chausmer, director of certification at Safe Kids, told Good Morning America. “And that’s really why we want kids to ride rear-facing. It protects the head, neck and spine better in a crash.”
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And don’t worry if your older children’s legs can touch the back seat while using rear-facing car seats.
“Kids are actually safer rear-facing, not just their head, neck and spine, but also their legs, so it’s perfectly fine if kids’ legs hit the back of the car seat,” Chausmer said.
Learn more about car seat regulations here.
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