Georgia lawmakers realize the crucial role child safety seats can play in keeping children safe. In Georgia, all children under six must be restrained in a car seat or booster seat appropriate for their age and height. All children under the age of six must ride in the back seat of the car. Failure to follow these laws can result in a fine of up to $50 and one point against your license per improperly unrestrained child. These can be doubled if a second incident occurs. More importantly, failure to follow these laws puts your child at risk.
Traffic accidents are the leading cause of injury for children between one to twelve years old. Many of these deaths and serious injuries could have been prevented. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), failure to use a seat belt or a child safety seat is a contributing factor in more than half the deaths of children in traffic accidents.
The NHTSA estimates that at least 72% of child vehicle safety restraints are being used incorrectly. When that happens, it increases the child’s risk of injury. A properly installed and used child safety seat reduces a child’s chances of death in an accident by 71% for infants and by 54% for toddlers ages one to four.
Here are additional tips for keeping your child safe in the car:
- Children under the age of thirteen should always ride in the back seat.
- Never hold a child in your lap. You will not be able to provide proper support and restraint in the event of a collision.
- Do not place a car seat in the front seat of a car. Front airbags are meant to protect adults, but they can be deadly for children.
- Children under one year and under twenty pounds should be in a rear-facing car seat. The seat should not face forward until the child is both over one year and over twenty pounds.
- Children between ages four and eight should be restrained in booster seats.
- Children over 80 pounds and taller than 4’9” can use a car seat belt safely.
- Get your car seat installation checked. Call your local police or fire department to schedule a car seat safety check.
- Always buckle up, even for a short trip. Most accidents occur within five minutes of home.
All car seats manufactured or sold in the United States must meet strict minimum safety standards; however, not all car seats are the same. Consider the following when purchasing a car seat:
- Seats with a five point harness are safer than those with a three point harness. A five point harness restrains the child’s whole body, not just the neck and shoulders.
- Try the car seat in your vehicle before buying it. Not every car seat fits every vehicle.
- Make sure your child fits the car seat and is comfortable in it.
- Ensure the seat is easy to install and keep clean.
- Look for a high rear-facing weight limit. Children under age four are safest when rear-facing.
Most importantly, never drive while under the influence of alcohol. Twenty percent of the children killed in traffic accidents are killed in collisions involving drivers who had been drinking. Nearly half of these children were passengers in a vehicle being driven by an intoxicated driver.