According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), car crashes are a leading cause of death for children ages one to 13. Many of these deaths could be prevented with the proper use of child restraint systems or child safety seats.

September is National Child Passenger Safety Awareness Month and we have 10 child passenger safety tips for drivers transporting little ones. 

  • Buy new car seats: Even if your car seat looks like it’s in good condition, it’s recommended that you use new child restraint systems.
  • Check your child’s fit to seat annually: routinely check your child’s car seat to make sure that it still fits the child correctly.
  • Check the seat’s expiration date: Car seats have an expiration date, typically 5 years from manufacture. The expiration date can be found printed or stamped on the bottom of the car seat base.
  • Heed the 1-inch rule: a properly installed car seat should not move more than 1 inch in any direction at the belt path. If it does, tighten and adjust.
  • Install the seat at the proper angle: For some rear-facing restraints, pool noodles or rolled towels can be used to help stabilize and provide a proper installation angle for the seat.
  • Do the Pinch Test: After buckling and tightening the harness, pinch the harness at the shoulder. If your fingers slide off the webbing, the harness is snug. If however, you are able to pinch the webbing between your fingers, continue to tighten until it passes the Pinch Test.
  • Remove heavy coats: coats can impact the fit of the child’s harness on a safety seat. It’s best to remove them before securing the child in the seat.
  • Replace all car seats after a crash: The foam padding inside a car seat can become unstable even after a minor crash. Though the seat may look fine, it may still be damaged. When in doubt, go ahead and replace the car seat.
  • Know when to switch from a boaster seat: Most parents move their kids from a boaster seat to just a seat belt too early. Keep in mind that seat belts don’t fit kids properly until they are at least 57” tall and weight 80-100 lbs.
  • Keep kids under 13 in the backseat: keeping children in the back seat until they are 13 years old keeps them away from the airbag deployment zone.

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