Cars are made for big people. So, that means anytime you have a little one on board, you have to make adjustments. And those car seats and boosters only protect if they've been installed correctly. Child seat expert Woody Johnston gives us some 'road rules':
- Make sure the harness straps are at or above the child's shoulders.
- Check how tight straps are. You should not be able to put more than one finger between the child's collar bone and the straps.
- Make sure the retainer clip stays at arm pit level. It keeps the straps from separating off the child's shoulders.
Once your child is in the seat correctly, you've got to figure out where to put the seat.
- Never put a rear facing child seat in the front with an airbag. The middle of the back seat is best. And its got to be in there tightly! What you are looking for is you don't want it to move more than an inch at the belt path.
- Kids should ride rear facing until they are one year old and weigh 20 pounds. After that you can turn them frontward.
- Make sure the seat is at about a 45 degree angle. You don't want it so upright that the baby's head keeps rolling forward-- especially if they're asleep.
- Big girls and boys, between 40 and 80 pounds and under 4 feet tall, are finally ready for a booster seat.
- Make sure that they never put the shoulder strap under their arm or behind their back. If you do that you can cause rib injuries or if you put it behind them they are basically not wearing a seat belt because there is no way for the shoulder strap to stop and catch them in a crash.
- Any loose, hard object can come hurtling toward you in a sudden stop. One of the most dangerous objects in a sudden stop is an unbuckled seat belt. So keep even the ones not being used buckled
- Keeping the kids occupied can make the trip safer too because they tend to move around less, make less noise, and you are a less distracted driver.
Lynda Jackson-Taylor of Drivin' Sane has something that might help keep children occupied and in their seats. "Our units are designed with safety in mind. They are flat screened units that harness to the back of the seats. Everything is secure whether its the TV, the VCR, the video game system. Everything is strapped down."