As a parent, the safety of your children is your number one priority, especially in the car. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the government expert on children’s car safety and their suggestions are not only guaranteed to keep you within the law, but have among the highest chance of keeping your child safe in the car. Choosing the correct seat type is crucial to children’s car safety. Below is a brief guide to the NHTSA recommendations in regards to this matter.
Seat Types and Age Recommendations
It is important for parents to have a good understanding of each type of car seat and which age groups are associated with each. There are four seat types: rear facing, forward facing, booster seats, and the front seat.
Rear facing car seats are placed in the back seat and the child faces the rear of the car. These seats have a harness and in the event of a crash they cradle your child, moving in a way that mitigates damage to the spine. Children between the ages of one and three years should use this type of seat.
Forward facing car seats are similar to rear facing seats in that they go in the back seat, but children face forward and have a harness and tether that minimizes your their forward motion in the event of a crash. Children between the ages of four and seven should use this type of seat.
A booster seat also faces forward and should also go in the back seat, but it simply raises your child so that he or she is able to be buckled in such a way that the seat belt rests at the appropriate spot on the body. Children between the ages of eight and 12 should use this type of car seat.
This seat type simply means that your child can now sit in the front seat with you like any other passenger without any special seating. The minimum age for front seat riding is 12.
A good rule of thumb is to keep your child in their current seating type until they have reached the maximum height and weight for that type of seat. For instance, keep your child in a rear facing seat even if they are over the age of three until they reach the highest height and/or weight for that type of seat, then move them up to the next seating type. By following these guidelines you will not only be keeping with NHTSA suggestions and regulations, but you will ensure your children are as safe as possible in the car.