Are there any new laws or reports on an infant facing forward or backward, in the front or back seat in a car seat?
The laws are not new, but your question raises an important issue that warrants reminders – especially this week being National Child Passenger Safety Week. One of my team members commented on driving past a car on Route 128 just last week that had two unrestrained young children in the back seat of the vehicle. One young child was trying to throw things out the open window of the vehicle. While thankfully not common, this situation is very dangerous.
Every 33 seconds, a child under the age of 13 is involved in a crash. Fortunately, deaths and injuries are frequently prevented by proper use of car seats, boosters, and seat belts. Of those children ages 8 and under who died in vehicle crashes in 2014 (the latest stats available), 26 percent were not restrained by an age-appropriate device such as an infant seat, booster seat or seat belt. Children should ride in a vehicle back seat until they are at least 13 years old.
The requirements are as follows:
• Infants – from newborn to two years old need to sit in the back seat and be in rear facing car seats. This dramatically reduces the number of injuries or severity of injuries in case of an accident.. Rear facing provides an infant with additional support for his tiny head, neck, and spine, according to pediatric specialists. Premature newborns can be placed in special car beds made for preemies. They key is not only to place the infant in the rear-facing seat, but to secure it properly by tightening the strap. There are videos on line to teach parents how to properly secure the car seat.
• Children Ages 2 – 5 can be front facing but should remain safely secured in the back seat. It is recommended to check with your pediatrician, as smaller children may be in a rear-facing seat longer and depending on the child’s size may be safer in a car seat as opposed to moving to a booster seat.
• Children 5 and up to age 13 should remain in the back seat for safety reasons. Specifically, airbags may injure children given the force of when an air bag is deployed. It is one of the many times I’ve used the old saying, “Better safe than sorry.” Children vary considerably in terms of height and weight during this age range so it is advised to only move out of a booster seat only when the child can be securely fastened by the seatbelt.
“Safety First” covers the Child Passenger Restraint Laws in Massachusetts and New Hampshire: Children must ride in federally approved child safety seats until they are at least 8 years old or over 57 inches tall (4′ 9″). Children older than 8 years old or taller than 57 inches tall must wear safety belts.
Most Police Departments and some hospital offer safety seat checks by appointment. If you are looking for one in Massachusetts, visit the Mass. Department of Executive Office of Public Safety and Security website for locations in your area by clicking here.
Some safety seat checks in the Jaffarian Volvo Toyota area include:
Lawrence General Hospital at 978-683-4000.
Haverhill Police Department at 978-373-1212
Merrimac Police Department at 978-346-8321.
If you are not 100% sure your child’s safety seat is properly fastened or used correctly, do not hesitate to ask for a consultation. Frequently there are free checks across the region to assist parents, grandparents and caregivers in ensuring their solution is safe and sound. All of us at Jaffarian Volvo Toyota want your children and infants to be safe. As a certified dealership for both Volvo and Toyota and achieving the designation of IIHS (Insurance Institute of Highway Safety) Top Safety Picks for most models, we are proud of the safety records and innovations of both car manufacturers. Volvo is also piloting a program to include built-in passenger safety seats. We will keep you posted on this innovation.