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Car Safety Resource Guide

Action Donation Services® is a car, boat, RV, motorhome, truck, and heavy equipment company that works with some of America’s finest charities to help them with their programs. Action has long been interested in car and boat safety, especially when it comes to providing a safe ride for children. When they are not processing donors’ auto and boat donations for non-profits, they are active in the community promoting youth safety.

Recently a lot of attention has been drawn to the use of booster seats for young passengers, with many states mandating booster seat use. A question that has been paid slightly less attention is when it’s appropriate to move children from booster seats to seat belts. For the average child between 8-12 years old it is time to transition from booster seat usage to using built in seat belts. Inappropriate use of either booster or seat belts can cause greater risk in the event of an accident.

  • Child Seats – An Overview
  • Passenger Safety – A Look at Booster Seats
  • Frequently asked Questions About Seatbelts and Booster Seats
  • New Seatbelt & Booster Seat Laws
  • Child Passengers & Safety
  • Child Restraint Laws in Australia

When Is It Time for Children to Use Built-In Seatbelts?

The proper height to being wearing a seatbelt is around four feet nine inches. The American association of pediatrics recommends moving children from booster seats to built-in seatbelts around this height, but for maximum safety also recommends that shoulder straps be used. In general children are safer in the back seat, and with a shoulder restraint, until ages 13-14.

What Happens During an Automobile Collision?

While it may not seem immediately obvious, during a collision it is not only the vehicle that is moving, and suddenly being stopped; the same is true for everything in the vehicle. The point of seat belts is to try to assure that, rather than continuing to move and thus being catapulted away from the vehicle, the passengers remain inside, and seated in the safest positions within it. It is for this reason that shoulder straps are also very important as they help to reduce the amount of force pulling the passenger to restrain them in the vehicle.

How Do I Know If My Son or Daughter Is Ready for Built-In Seat Belts?

The two main indicators for determining when it is time to use built in seat belts rather than booster seats are age, and size. Usually once a child is between 12-14 years old, or more than four feet, nine inches, it’s appropriate to begin using built in seat belts. This can sometimes be a challenge, as not every child wants to wear seat belts, and may feel it’s an unnecessary burden. Children who are already used to booster seats will have an easier time transitioning to seat belts. Once children transition to seat belts it is important to make sure they wear seat belts properly and do not try to move the shoulder strap out of the way; this can not only defeat the purpose of the shoulder strap but it can also cause harm in a collision

Motivating Children to Wear Seat Belts

Many adults do not bother to wear a seat belt when in the back seat of a car, even while they should. Most safety belt laws do not require adults to wear seat belts in the back seat. Children, especially adolescents, will easily adopt these habits. For this reason, and for maximum safety, it’s best to set a good example by always wearing a safety belt regardless of where an adult is seated in a car, and requiring other adult passengers to do the same when driving. In some cases this is a legal requirement, but it all cases it’s conducive of maximum safety, and a great way to motivate children to do the same.

Why Should Children Ride in the Back Seat?

There are several common vulnerabilities to automobiles. The sides of a car are certainly the most vulnerable, and there is little way, aside from side airbags, to prevent the devastating damage a side impact can cause. That said most vehicle collisions are from the front or rear. Front seat drivers may be protected by airbags, however it is very common that front side collisions result in broken glass, and potentially parts of the engine compartment breaching into the vehicle. For this reason back seat passengers are better protected, being further from these vulnerabilities.

Other Ways to Keep Young Adults Safe When Riding in Cars

In addition to seat belts, there are other ways to keep children and young adults safe during a collision. Many regions promote, or require, airbags. Often these only apply to the driver, or perhaps the front seat passenger. Side airbags are an excellent add-on option in many vehicles, and in addition to reducing insurance costs, these can be extremely useful during side collisions. That said sensible things like sitting upright, and not leaning forward to play with the radio while a vehicle is moving also help maximize safety; seatbelts are designed for upright passengers, and their protection can be diminished by moving them, or sitting in awkward positions for which they were not designed.

Safety for Teen Drivers

Teen drivers certainly need to buckle up but that is only where teen driving safety begins. Parents should not be afraid to discuss safety with teens. It is very easy for teens to assume that because they have a license to drive that they know everything about driving, or driving safely, and that is far from the case. By always wearing a seatbelt themselves parents can instill this positive habit, but they should not be afraid to insist their children follow it when driving themselves. Parents should also insist that if a teen rides with another teen driver that the driver have at least a year or more experience driving.

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