The simple use of the correct car seat or booster seat lowers the risk of death or serious injury for children in automobile accidents by more than 70%. As recently as 2018 the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated their car seat and booster seat recommendations as to when, where, and how kids should ride in cars. The following is a breakdown of those updated recommendations and some other useful car seat and booster seat information.

Newborns – Weight and height limit of the rear-facing car seat

  • Rear-facing car seat.
  • Use until the child has reached the weight or height limit allowed by the seat, generally around 2 years.

2 years (age is approximate) – Weight and height limit of the forward-facing car seat

  • Forward facing car seat.
  • Use until the child reaches the height or weight limit of their forward-facing seat, generally around 6 years.

6 years (age is approximate) – 4 ft. 9 inches

  • Forward-facing booster seat.
  • Use until the child reaches 4 ft. 9 inches, anywhere between 8 years – 12 years. At this height, kids can use the vehicles lap and shoulder seat belt property.

Under age 13

  • The child should ride in the back seat of vehicles.

One of the biggest questions we hear is why children under the age of 13 should avoid riding in the front or passenger seat. There are a few reasons this is the recommendation:

  • Most crashes occur in the front of the car and the back seat is the farthest from the impact.
  • Airbags are not designed for children. Airbags can cause serious injury to children below the height requirement by hitting them in the face, chest, neck or head.
  • Bone development in kids isn’t as complete as it is in adults, regardless of how big the kid is. This leaves them more vulnerable to serious injury in the case of a front end collision.

A major issue can be incorrectly installed car seats or booster seats. If a child’s car seat or booster seat is incorrectly installed, or even the wrong size for the child, it can do more harm than good when it comes to protection in the case of an accident. The following are suggestions to ensure the car seat or booster seat is installed correctly:

  • Follow the instructions that come with the car seat or booster seat.
  • Check for tips and instructions.
  • The vast majority of police departments and health departments are happy to help people correctly install car seats and booster seats free of charge.

Car seats and booster seats are immensely important in protecting children in vehicles. Unfortunately, accidents and injuries can still happen. If you, a child in your care, or another loved one have been injured in a car accident, call the experienced attorneys of Craig Swapp & Associates. Get in touch with us at 1-800-404-9000 or tell us your story by filling out the online form at the bottom of this page.

Car Seats and Booster Seats: How Kids Should Ride in Cars

Written By: Ryan Swapp     Legal Review By: Craig Swapp