Here at Perkins Motors, one of the greatest joys we have is helping people find that perfect vehicle to meet the needs of a growing family. Experts say a large percentage of vehicle purchases are due to the arrival of a new baby – which make sense as a new baby can mean the need for an extended trunk for a stroller, added space for diaper bags, toys and most importantly, a new child safety seat. Often, customers are not 100% sure what the regulations are for car safety seats or how to install them correctly, so we hope this information will be helpful for you, your family or friends experiencing the greatest joy on earth: a new baby.
First the scary facts – in Colorado, motor vehicle crashes kill more kids than any other cause of death. It is a shocking fact that 4 out of 5 car seats are used incorrectly. Make sure you are following the current Colorado car seat law and the safest practices for your child. If you are unsure if you put the car seat in correctly, police stations and fire departments across Colorado Springs can help you put it in and also teach you how to do it if you need to move the seat to another vehicle.
In Colorado, children ages 4-8 (through their 8th birthday) must use either a car seat or a booster seat. Effective, Aug. 1, 2011, you could face a fine of $82 or more if you are not in compliance with this law. According to the Colorado Car and Booster Seat Law, children under 8 years old must be properly restrained in a child restraint system. There are many great ones to choose from and places such as Babies R Us have experts on hand to help you find the perfect one for your needs.
In addition, Colorado Car Seat Law states infants must ride in a rear-facing car seat until they are 1 year old AND weigh at least 20 lbs in the rear seat of the vehicle. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents and caregivers to keep their children rear-facing until age 2, or until they reach the maximum height and weight for their seat. Many car seats can be used rear-facing until your child weights 35-40 pounds. Rear-facing seats offer the best protection during a crash because the whole body (head, neck and torso) is cradled by the back of the safety seat in a frontal crash. They also protect your baby better in other types of crashes, particularly side impact crashes.
Always be sure to keep your children in the back seat. Always use the upper-tether strap (the long pieces of seat belt material with a clip located on the top back of a convertible car seat) according to the vehicle owner's manual and child restraint manufacturer's instructions. Again, if you have any questions or just want to double check you put the seat in correctly, just go down to the local fire department or police station as they KNOW how to put them in correctly and safely.
According to Colorado Booster Seat Law Children between the ages of 4 and 8 years old (through their 8th birthday) must continue to ride in a child restraint. This can be a five-point harness child safety seat for younger children or a booster that uses the vehicle's lap and shoulder belt as kids get older and bigger. Children should be in a booster in the back seat until they are 57" tall and at least 8 years old. Studies have shown the use of booster seats can reduce the risk of injury by 59% compared to seat belts alone. Keep your child in a booster until:
• They are 4'9" (57") tall; for many children this is after age 8, so height is the safest guideline
• The shoulder belt of the car's seat belt crosses her shoulder and chest (not her neck)
• The lap belt crosses the upper thighs (not the abdomen)
• Their knees bend at the edge of the back seat and her feet dangle down
• They can stay seated like this for the entire trip
Finally, Colorado Law states children between the ages of 8 and 16 (through their 16th birthday) must use a seatbelt or child
restraint (and common sense says teach your children to wear seatbelts ALL their lives).
Following these guidelines should help you know when your child can safely stop using the booster. Remember to keep your child in the back seat as long as possible, until at least age 13 and 100 pounds. If your teenager is in the front seat, put the seat as far back as possible in case the airbag deploys in an accident. Also it is important to note that children learn by watching their parents, and this includes good driving habits – so be sure to ALWAYS wear your seatbelt so you are a great example for your little ones. You never know when someone will run a red light or sadly, be texting while driving – crashes are awful but using these techniques could possible reduce damage.
Perkins Motors want ALL ages of car drivers and passengers to be safe at ALL times and knowing how to install a car seat for your most valuable cargo and understanding the law (which is designed to keep you safe) is a good place to start. Happy Driving!