ARKANSAS, USA — This week is National Child Passenger Safety Week, and though you may think you know everything there is to know about your child’s car seat, you might be wrong.
According to Arkansas State Police, 75% of parents think their kid's car seat is installed correctly, but it’s not.
There are very specific rules for car seats under the Child Passenger Protection Act:
Birth to 12 months:
A child under the age of one always rides rear-facing, or facing the back of the car. These children can ride in a rear-facing only carrier, a convertible car seat, or an all-in-one car seat.
1 to 3 years:
They should stay in the rear-facing car seat until they reach the upper weight or height limit allowed by that seat for rear-facing, until at least age 2. These children ride in a rear-facing-only carrier, a convertible car seat, or an all-in-one car seat.
4 to 7 years:
Children should ride in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until they reach the upper weight or height limit of that car seat. The top tether should always be used when forward facing, unless the weight limit has been reached. These children ride in a convertible or a combination car seat.
8 to 12 years:
Children should use a high back booster or a backless booster when they have outgrown the forward facing seat with a harness until they can properly fit a seat belt. Boosters are used with lap and shoulder seat belts only.
13 years and up:
Children should only move to a lap and shoulder seat belt when they properly fit. By proper fit, the shoulder belt must lay flat on the shoulder, the lap belt portion stays low on the hips (not the stomach), and the child's knees should bend over the seat with their feet touching the floor.
Children should not be front seat passengers until they are at least 13 years old.
Every kid is different, so there aren't hard and fast rules that can apply in every situation. If you have questions about what car seat your child should be using, you can go to Arkansas State Police headquarters and get it checked for free. It's located at 1 State Police Plaza Drive in Little Rock.
Not only could it help save your child's life in an accident, but state police can, and will, ticket you for driving with a child who's not properly buckled in.