Car seat safety – from buckles to boosters

It's a statistic that's both startling and sad: motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children. And, for every fatality caused by a motor vehicle crash, hundreds more children are treated for injuries related to a car accident.

Having a car seat isn't enough. It's just as important to make sure that it is properly installed, and that you use the right precautions when you have children in the car. The following tips to help keep your children safe on the roads:

Car seat safety

  • Children should be rear-facing until they reach the maximum height and/or weight listed for their given car seat model, usually about the age of two.
  • When using a rear-facing seat, make sure your car seat base is installed at the correct angle. Babies must ride sitting semi-reclined so their airways remain open. Most infant car seats have built-in angle indicators or adjustors to assist in this process.
  • Any child who has outgrown the weight or height limit for his/her rear-facing car seat should use a forward-facing car seat until they reach either four years old or 40 pounds. A child has outgrown his or her forward facing car seat when the top of his or her ears reach the top of the seat.
  • Always use a five-point harness, and properly position the harness on your child per manufacturer specifications. For rear-facing seats, harness straps should enter the seat below the child's shoulders. For forward-facing seats, they should be at or above the shoulder. Harness straps should lay flat, with no sagging or twisting.
  • Installations should be tight. You should not be able to move your car seat side to side more than one inch.
  • Children should not wear winter coats in harnessed car seats. The added bulk can prevent proper harness tightening. It can also compress during an accident, leaving too much room in the harness and allowing the child to shift dangerously.

Booster seat safety

  • All children whose weight or height is above the forward-facing limit should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle seat belt fits properly. This typically is when they have reached 4' 9" in height and are between eight and 12 years of age.
  • When using a booster seat, make sure the lap belt lies low and snug across the child's upper thighs, below the hip bones. The shoulder belt should cross the center of your child's chest and shoulder. It should not cut across his/her neck or face. Never put the shoulder belt behind your child's back or under his or her arm.

General car safety

  • The safest placement for kids is the center of the back seat. Children younger than 13 who ride in the front seat can risk serious injury – not only from other cars, but from airbag deployment.
    • Be sure to register your child's car safety seat. In the event of a recall, the manufacturer will let you know of the recall and what steps you should take. You can also see for yourself if your current car seat has an outstanding recall at this National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website.
  • Proper installation of child car seats is critical to their function. Visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for a list of sites that will inspect and even install your children's car seats.
  • In the event of a car accident, this article can help you determine whether your car seat needs to be replaced.

For more information on how to keep your children safe in car seats, please talk to your local independent agent and view our infographic.

Staying seated

At The Hanover, we believe strongly in child safety. That's why we automatically include car safety coverage with all of our Hanover Platinum Protection policies. This coverage provides up to $300, with no deductible, to replace a damaged car seat when the damage takes place as a result of a covered loss.

Source: Center for Disease Control

This material is provided for informational purposes only and does not provide any coverage or guarantee loss prevention. The examples in this material are provided as hypothetical and for illustration purposes only. The Hanover Insurance Company and its affiliates and subsidiaries (“The Hanover”) specifically disclaim any warranty or representation that acceptance of any recommendations contained herein will make any premises, or operation safe or in compliance with any law or regulation.  By providing this information to you, The Hanover does not assume (and specifically disclaims) any duty, undertaking or responsibility to you.  The decision to accept or implement any recommendation(s) or advice contained in this material must be made by you.

LC July 2018-326