A Dozen Ways to Keep Kids Safe in the Car

By Judy Curry, CMO and Co-Founder
Curry’s Auto Service

Few parents forget the first time they put their infant into the car. Many hospitals won’t release a new mother unless she has an infant car seat for her baby.

Installing car seats correctly is an essential part of being a good parent. But almost anyone who has installed a car seat knows it’s a challenge to get the seat set up correctly. The good news is that help is available.

At Curry’s Auto Service, we want to be part of the solution for parents with young children.

Although we aren’t car-seat specialists, we are your partner in-car safety. So we turn to the experts from the VA Dept. of Health for advice on how to install a car seat, as well as other great tips on how to keep your kids safe in the car.

Remember: Virginia law states that all children under 18 years of age must be adequately restrained in the car. The VA Highway Safety Office wants to ensure that all children in Virginia are riding safely in the car. Read on for tips and assistance with transporting your children safely.

Studies have shown that children are more likely to become lifelong seat belt users when their parents are lifelong seat belt users. So, your child’s safety begins with you. Set a good example by making sure that you buckle up on every ride.

Car-Seat Safety Tips

1. Until they are two years old, children should ride facing the rear—or as long as the safety seat manufacturer allows, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

2. Everyone needs to be adequately restrained in the car, whether in a child safety seat, a booster seat, or a seat belt. This means one seat belt for each safety seat or person. Do not share seat belts!

3. Did you know that an individual is four times more likely to die outside the vehicle than inside? The primary function of the safety seat and seat belt is to prevent ejection from the car.

4. Keep in mind that individuals not buckled up can be thrown from the car or tossed around inside the vehicle, which can seriously injure them or others.

5. Never hold a child on your lap while in the car. And do not allow anyone to ride in the cargo area of a station wagon, van, or pickup.

6. One of the most frequently asked questions about safety seats is: “What’s the best child safety seat I can buy?” Federal regulations state that all safety seats made in the United States must conform to a specific set of guidelines. Hence, the best seat is the safety seat that fits the child, the vehicle, any child’s special needs and is used correctly every time.

7. Child safety seats need to be tightly installed with either a safety belt or LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) to hold them in place.

8. How “tight” is tight? After installation, you’ll know you have installed the seat securely when it can move no more than one inch side-to-side or forward.

9. Use the correct slots on the safety seat for your child: at or slightly below the rear-facing infant’s shoulders, at or slightly above the forward-facing toddler’s shoulders.

  • Note: Harness straps should be positioned on the child’s shoulders and chest, not on the arms. The goal is to keep the straps flat on the child’s body and snug enough that you cannot pinch any slack in the straps at the child’s shoulders. Place the harness retainer clip at the armpit level on the child.

10. “When is my child ready for a booster seat?” When the child reaches the upper weight and height limits set by the manufacturer of the convertible seat, a belt-positioning booster can be considered for use. This forward-facing seat requires a lap/shoulder belt and “boosts” the child to fit the vehicle seat belt system better.

11. To be able to fit in an adult seat belt, the child must be tall enough to: sit without slouching, keep his or her back against the vehicle seat back, keep his or her knees completely bent over the edge of the seat, keep his or her feet flat on the floor, and be able to stay comfortably seated this way.

12. The lap belt must fit low and tight across the upper thighs. The shoulder belt should rest over the center of the shoulder through the center of the chest. Never put the shoulder belt under the child’s arm or behind the back. This can cause serious internal injuries in a crash. If the seat belt does not fit properly, use a belt-positioning booster.

Learn more about VA Child Passenger Safety Laws by clicking here.

About Curry’s Auto Service

With ten locations in Northern Virginia and Maryland, Curry’s Auto Service is legendary for providing the best full-service car repair and vehicle maintenance in the Washington, DC, area serving the communities of Alexandria, Arlington, Chantilly, Dulles Town Center, Fairfax City, Falls Church, Gainesville, Gaithersburg, Reston/Great Falls, and its newest and 10th location, in Leesburg, which opened in December 2012.

An Inc. 5000 Honoree, Curry’s Auto Service specializes in the repair and maintenance of European import and domestic cars—including Audi, BMW, Honda, Mercedes, Porsche, Toyota, and Volkswagen. Using state-of-the-art equipment, its factory-trained, ASE-certified technicians take pride in customer satisfaction.

Curry’s is also the exclusive TIRE PROS dealer in the area. In the fall of 2012, it became a Certified Maryland State Auto Safety and Emission Inspection Station.

Click here for your December auto coupon from Curry’s Auto Service.

For more information, visit www.currysauto.com.

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