Tips For Using A Child Safety Seat
- The back seat is generally the safest place in the car for all children 12 years of age or younger.
- Babies up to 20 lbs. and about age one should ride in a safety seat secured to the back seat facing the rear of the car.
- Babies should not be placed forward or backward in the front passenger seat if the vehicle has a passenger-side air bag.
- Children over 20 lbs. and about age one or older should ride buckled up in the back seat.
- Make sure the vehicle’s seat belt is put through the correct slot in the safety seat. Incorrectly fastened safety seats defeat their purpose and can result in injury.
- These permanent seats are designed to restrain children at least 1 year old and at least 20 pounds in a forward-facing position. Because they are built into the vehicle, these seats are an effective restraint system for children. Built-in child seats have an advantage over add-on child seats because they do not have compatibility problems with the vehicle’s seat design or seat belt systems.
- Some manufacturers offer vehicles with a “Top Tether Anchorage System”. This is a metal plate or ring-like object bolted into the vehicle. Depending on the vehicle, the anchorage may be located on the shelf or back of the seat, on the floor, or on the ceiling. This anchorage will attach to a top-tether strap that comes with some child safety seats and may improve protection by attaching the top of the child seat more securely to the vehicle.
- Note: Some manufacturers have introduced the next generation lower anchorages in a few models.
CHILD SAFETY LOCKS Child safety locks are built into the rear doors of most cars to prevent rear seat passengers from opening the doors both during transit and while the vehicle is stationary. Although called a child lock it is equally effective for adult passengers. The lock is typically engaged via a small switch on the edge of the rear doors that is only accessible when the door is open. Some cars implement the locking mechanism as a rotary device which must be turned with the vehicle key, this design prevents “sticky fingered” passengers from disabling the lock as they enter the vehicle. In both designs the lock is completely inaccessible, especially to the passenger, when the door is closed. When the child lock is engaged, the interior handle is rendered useless, usually by disconnecting the handle from the latch mechanism, or by locking the handle in place. In this state the passenger cannot open the door from the inside and is effectively “locked in”, the passenger can only be released by someone lifting the outside handle. Some vehicles implement window-locking mechanisms as well.
As well as the above mentioned mechanism, on many cars there are also window locks. These window locks prevent the windows in the back two doors of the car from opening all of the way. The windows only open to about three quarters. These were put into place from fear of a child ‘falling’ out of the window.
PROPERLY SECURING HEAVY ITEMS It is illegal to drive any vehicle with an unsafe, unsecured load that is a safety hazard. If you load or secure heavy items incorrectly, it can be a danger to others and yourself. Loose heavy items that fall off a vehicle can cause traffic problems and others could be hurt or killed. Loose heavy items can hurt or kill you during a quick stop or collision. Your vehicle can be damaged by an overload. Steering can be affected by an improperly loaded vehicle making it more difficult to control.
Some questions to ask when securing your load:
- Is there any chance of debris falling (or blowing) out of my vehicle?
- Would I feel safe if I were driving behind my vehicle?
- Would I want my loaded vehicle driving through my neighborhood?
- What would happen to my load if I had to brake suddenly or if I hit
- Do I need to drive slower than I normally do?
- Is my load secured on top, on the sides, and in back?
- Am I regularly checking my load in the mirror while driving?
CHILD ENDANGERMENT It is illegal to leave a child six years of age or younger unattended in a motor vehicle. Be aware if:
- Weather conditions or other conditions present a significant risk to the child’s health or safety. Example: Leaving a child in a closed vehicle on a very hot day. It is against the law to leave unattended minor children in a vehicle. Additionally, and equally important, it is dangerous and deadly to leave children and/ or animals in a hot vehicle. After sitting in the sun, with even a slightly opened window, the temperature can rise rapidly inside a parked vehicle. The temperature inside a vehicle can rise approximately 40-50 degrees higher than the outside temperature.
Dehydration, heat stroke, and death can result from overexposure to the heat. Remember, if it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for children and pets.
- The vehicle’s engine is running, keys are in the ignition, or both. Children may start or move the vehicle causing injuries and/or deaths to themselves or others. With the key in the ignition, automatic transmissions may be shifted “out of park” even if the vehicle’s engine is off and the driver’s foot is not on the brake. If you leave the key in the ignition and turned to the accessory mode (to listen to the radio, open/close the windows, etc.), your vehicle’s automatic transmission may be shifted out of “Park” if you or a child moves the gear selector.
- Teach children not to play in or around cars.
- Supervise children carefully when in and around vehicles.
- Check around your vehicle prior to entering and leaving to make sure no objects, and especially children are around where you would be driving out and running over them.
- Keep vehicle locked when unattended.
- Never leave keys in the car.
- Engage your emergency brake every time you park.
- Verify whether or not your vehicle has a Brake Transmission Safety Interlock (BTSI). Read the owner’s manual.
What you need to know, now:
- When the vehicle is set in motion, children may become scared and jump out of the vehicle only to be injured or run over. They can also be hurt inside the vehicle, especially if they are unbelted and the vehicle is in motion. Sometimes, the vehicle may end up running over someone else.
- Many vehicles today have a BTSI which is a safety technology intended to prevent children from accidentally putting a vehicle into gear.
- All vehicles with automatic transmission with a Park position, manufactured for sale after September 1, 2010, must have BTSI.
EXCEPTION: The child may be left under the supervision of a person 12 years of age or older.
The court may fine a violator and require him or her to attend a community education program. Also, DMV and court penalties for leaving an unattended child in a vehicle are more severe if the child is injured, requires emergency medical services, or dies.
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