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The safety of your family is your most important priority. Manufacturers design vehicles and child car seats to keep everyone safe. However, not just any one will do. Buying, installing and using the right car seat is essential to making sure you child is protected when you’re out on the road.


Buying the Right Seat

Safe Kids reports that “73% of car seats are not used or installed correctly.” When a car seat has been used properly, the chance of death in an accident can be reduced by up to 71%. There are several things to consider when looking at the correct car seat for you child:

    • The right model.

Your child’s age, weight and height will determine the safety seat you need to buy. The height and weight recommendations can be found on the seat’s label, make sure you comply with these as the safety mechanisms of the seat have been designed with these in mind. There are 3 seat versions: rear facing, forward facing and booster seats. A great tool to help choose the right seat can be found on the Safe Kids website.

    • Your vehicle.

Choose a seat that fits your vehicle. The center of the back seat is the safest place in the vehicle but in many this seat is narrow or at a different height from the other seats. It also may not have the seat belt or LATCH attachments to secure the child seat.

    • Used seats.

Wherever possible, avoid buying used seats unless you can guarantee the history. If it’s been in an accident in the past, don’t buy it. Also check for cracks or missing parts, instructions or if the warranty is still valid.

Child Car Seats in Virginia

Virginia has its own rules for child car seats. Every child aged 7 years and younger must be fastened into a car seat. The driver is responsible for making sure kids under 17 years old wear seat belts. Babies in rear-facing seats are only allowed in the front seat if there is no rear seat and the passenger air bag has been deactivated. If the child is between 4 and 7, they can only use a seat belt with a doctor’s signed statement. This must be available if asked.


After Purchase

Once you’ve purchased the car seat, make sure you keep the model, date-of-manufacturer number and warranty in a safe place. Register the information on the Safer Car website so that you’re emailed if there are any recall notices for your model.

Car seats can be installed using either a seat belt or the LATCH system. The safety level of both systems are the same, which one you use will be determined by how easy it is to get the seat in and out of the vehicle. Be mindful that the lower anchors of the LATCH system have a maximum combined load of 65 pounds for the car seat and child.

Make sure you use the manufacturer’s instructions for installing your car seat. Once you’ve installed it, give it a shake. If it doesn’t move more than an inch, it’s installed correctly. When your child is belted in, pinch the shoulder strap. If you find you can’t grip any excess material, the straps are securely fastened.

You can control your driving but you can’t control others on the road. Ensure your family is safe so that if you’re involved in an accident, you’re providing the best protection for every member.

You can find out more about choosing the right child car seat by watching this Safer Car video.