Moving your child to a seatbelt… what’s the rush?

This is an excerpt of a post from the Halton Parents‘ blog. It was written by their guest blogger, Julie Fluit, a public health nurse with over 11 years of experience and expertise in the area of child passenger safety (published June 1, 2011).

We thought it appropriate to share their knowledge about seatbelt safety because parents do a lot of driving to and from Unit meetings!  

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Girl in Booster Seat. Photo: Halton Parents

Girl in Booster Seat. Photo: Halton Parents

As a car seat technician, I meet many parents who are eager to move their child to the next stage. “When can I turn my child forward-facing?” “When can my child go into a booster seat?” “When can my child use a seat belt only?” As a parent myself, I get it that parents like to plan ahead, but it only takes a reminder that the car seats for each stage are made to best protect children according to their body size and strength to get the head nod that they understand. But do we really understand?

In a recent enforcement blitz at an elementary school in Milton, Ont., a police officer I work with saw a number of kids not using boosters or even seatbelts. One child said he couldn’t use his seatbelt because the backpack he was wearing was in the way… another child said her backpack must have undone her seatbelt. Crazy, but true.

Why do children need car seats or boosters?

Seat belts are designed to fit adults. Adult males, to be precise! If the shoulder belt rides across a child’s neck, or if the lap belt is across a child’s stomach, he or she can be seriously injured in a sudden stop or collision. These injuries are usually called ‘seatbelt syndrome’. Car seats and booster seats that are installed correctly significantly reduce the risk of these injuries.

Did you know that many new models of car seats can be used with a 5-point harness system up to 30 kg (65 lb)?  I kept my son in his 65 lb car seat until he was over 7 years old.  He questioned me once about why his friends were not still in carseats too… I told him his seat was safer and I wanted him to be as safe as possible. He never questioned it again.

When is your child ready for a seatbelt alone?

Take the ‘One Minute Seat Belt Safety Check

To fit a lap/shoulder belt properly most children need:

  • to have a sitting height of 74cm (29 in.) or to be at least 1.45m (4 ft. 9 in.) tall.
  • to be able to bend their knees comfortably over the vehicle seat, otherwise they will slouch causing the lap belt to ride up of the stomach
  • to be at least age 9 or 10, when their hip bones are fully developed and can hold the lap belt in place low over the upper thighs.

The reality is car seats save lives… by as much as 74%. Booster seats provide 60% more protection than a seatbelt alone.  So what is the rush??

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Is seatbelt safety a concern of yours?

Looking for more? Read the original post in its entirety.

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7 Responses to Moving your child to a seatbelt… what’s the rush?

  1. Thanks so much for a great post – to help keep our girls (and boys) safe!

  2. Sandra says:

    Totally agree! My petite 9 year old will be in a booster for a long time yet. We have let her know that when she wants us to take the high-back off we will but for now she is more comfortable with it on. When she turned 8 she found out she didn’t need to be in a booster anymore. We let her try it out in the driveway and when she realized she could barely see out of the window she wanted it back. We told her the same thing – it was safety the mattered the most. I think another good point is that you need to be over 5′ tall to sit safely in the front seat with an operational airbag.

  3. A staffer of ours has a tall child who could have moved out of her booster earlier than other kids her age. The girl herself felt less secure without the booster and decided another month would be okay (till she officially passed the height requirement). Kids do know what feels right (and secure)!

  4. Anonymous says:

    It is so great to see Guiding sharing this safety message.

    Kim Mundle, former Girl Guide and Guider, Car Seat Safety Specialist, Child Safety Link, Halifax

  5. Anne says:

    Just when I needed the info! We have recently been talking about removing out daughter from her booster seat since she just reach the 80lbs mark and we weren’t sure what other requirements there were, so thanks avian!

  6. Great work in keeping our precious cargo SAFE before it becomes critical…during a car crash!

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