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Published on May 18, 2012

buckle up

Buckle Up: Car Seat Safety, Part 3

My last two posts have been about car seat safety, focusing on younger children. However, I’d like to also do a review of proper restraints for older children.

Click It, Or Ticket

By South Dakota law, all passengers 17 years of age and under must be buckled. Children under five years of age and under 40 pounds are required to use an approved child safety seat in all seating positions.

You can be stopped and ticketed for not having passengers appropriately restrained. Currently, South Dakota does not have a booster seat law, but neighboring states have different laws. Check out this map of car seat laws by state to find out the details, especially if you are traveling.

But is fear of getting a ticket really the reason you should make sure your kids are safely restrained? Of course not. As parents, we want to make sure our kids are safe and we want to instill habits that will keep them safe throughout their lives. One important way to do that is to be a good role model. You yourself should always buckle up!

Need A Boost?

Booster seats are important, and they should be used until your child is 57 inches tall. There are also other guidelines, such as 80 pounds or eight years old, but height is the best parameter to use since seatbelts are designed for adults. For children ages four to seven, booster seats reduce injury risk by 59 percent, compared to safety belts alone.

Seat Belt Rules Of Thumb

An adult seat belt (without a booster seat) fits correctly when:

  1. The shoulder belt lies across the middle of the chest and shoulder, not the neck or throat. (The shoulder belt should never be put behind your child!)
  2. The lap belt is low and snug across the upper thighs, not the belly.
  3. Your child is tall enough to sit against the vehicle seat back with her or his knees bent without slouching and can stay in this position comfortably throughout the trip.

Another safety issue is where your child sits. Kids shouldn’t ride in the front seat until they are 12 years old. Air bags can be dangerous to young children, so if your child has to ride in the front seat for some reason, make sure to turn the air bag off.

Hopefully, this is a reminder that car seats are not just for infants and toddlers. It is in your child’s best interest to be properly restrained based on his or her size, not based on age or how his or her friends ride in their own cars.

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