is my child ready to ditch the booster and only have a seatbelt?
Has your child recently turned 8 years old, or reached 4' 9" in height? This means no more bulky safety seat to lug around, and no more worrying about whose car has the safety seat for you to travel in. Exciting right? Yes! But, before your child moves out of the booster seat and into an adult seat make sure they’re ready to take on the seat belt alone. You can check this by using the safety belt fit test by Safe Kids Worldwide.
- Check knees and feet. Your child’s knees should bend at the edge of the seat when their back and bottom are against the back of the vehicle’s seat. Their feet should touch the floor for comfort and stability.
- Check the lap belt. The vehicle lap belt must fit snugly across the hips or upper thighs.
- Check the shoulder belt. The shoulder belt must fit across the shoulder and chest, NOT across the face or neck.
So, you’ve done the test and your child is ready to move out of the booster. What now? Although your child may fit the requirements to ditch the safety seat and move to an adult seat, this doesn’t mean they are free to roam unrestrained in the back seat of the car.
It is important that all passengers in a motor vehicle are buckling up every time.
In 2020, Dayton Children’s saw 245 children 8-years-old and older come into the emergency department due to a motor vehicle crash. Of those 245 children, 22% of them were unrestrained.
“Kids are always watching what we do. It is imperative that we as adults and role models set a good example for our kids and always buckle up every time,” says Alexa Wene, injury prevention coordinator at Dayton Children's. “It’s crucial to not only stress the importance of seat belt safety for children, but teens too. Starting the practice of seatbelt safety at a young age can transition to safe seat belt practice when these children become adults.” In 2019, the National Traffic and Highway Safety Association (NTHSA) reported that 2,042 people were killed in crashes involving a teen driver (15-18 years old). Additionally, 45% of the teen drivers who died in 2019 were unbuckled.
1. Buckling up helps keep you safe and secure inside your vehicle, whereas not buckling up can result in being totally ejected from the vehicle in a crash, which is almost always deadly.
2. Air bags are not enough to protect you; in fact, the force of an air bag can seriously injure or even kill you if you’re not buckled up.
3. Improperly wearing a seat belt, such as putting the strap below your arm, puts you and your children at risk in a crash.
Unintentional motor vehicle crashes continue to be the leading cause of death for children aged 15-24 in the United States. If it only took a few seconds to save you and your child’s life by buckling up, why wouldn’t you do it?
Additional child passenger safety resources: