Fragile - AAA Auto Club South
Transport Safely
Child Safety Seat Recommendations
Rear-Facing Seats from birth until age 2, or until your
child reaches the upper weight limit of their rear-facing
convertible seat, which will be around 30–45 pounds.
Forward-facing seats once your child reaches the
upper weight or height limit of their rear-facing convertible
seat. It is safest to keep your child in a forward-facing seat
with a harness until they reach the maximum weight limit
(40–65+ pounds) or height restriction of their seat.
Belt-positioning booster seats once a child
outgrows the upper weight or height limit of their forwardfacing harness. Children should use belt-positioning booster
seats until they are at least 4'9" and are between 8 and 12
years of age.
Lap & Shoulder
Belts once the
belt fits properly.
All children under
age 13 should
ride in the back seat!
Install the
safety seat correctly
Car seats are most effective
when used properly. Make
sure you read the installation
instructions carefully. There
are certified child safety seat
technicians who can help.
Contact 1-866-SEAT-CHECK or
visit for
additional information.
Many people believe they can protect children while riding in a
vehicle by holding them on their laps, but safety experts call this the
“child crusher” position. Actually, a parent or other adult increases
both the chances and severity of injury to a child in a crash with
this practice. Even at low speeds, the forces generated in a crash
are so great that even strong adults cannot restrain or shield
children held in their laps. The child can be thrown forward into
the dashboard or seat back area and then crushed between that
surface and the body of the adult (restrained or unrestrained).
Young passengers are at the highest risk for serious
head and spinal injuries because they have large heads,
less developed neck muscles and spines. Remember,
children are not small adults! Under similar situations,
a young child is much more likely to be injured than an
adult. Each year about 400 passengers under age five are
killed and tens of thousands are injured as a result of
vehicle crashes and sudden stops.
The best safety seat is one that:
1.Fits your child;
2.Fits your vehicle;
3.And you will use correctly every trip!
Why are child safety seats needed?
All vehicle occupants need to be properly restrained
by seat belts or child safety seats to prevent injury in
case of a sudden stop, swerve or crash. Seat belts and
child safety seats are designed to keep people in the
vehicle, contact the strongest parts of the body, spread
crash forces over a wide area of the body, help the
body slow down and protect the brain and spinal cord.
An unrestrained occupant can be thrown around the
vehicle like a flying missile. In a 30 mph crash, a person
can be thrown with a force equal to 30 times their
own weight (10-pound infant x 30 mph = 300 lbs. of
force). An unrestrained child could crash with a force
comparable to falling from a three-story building!
Expectant Mothers:
Always wear a lap
and shoulder belt
Place the lap belt
below or under
the belly
Position the shoulder
belt across the chest
and to the side of
the belly
Sit at least 10 inches
away from the
steering wheel
• Limit driving during
the last three months
when the steering
wheel is close to
the abdomen
Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death and
injury for all children. Child restraints reduce the risk
of injury by 71% to 82% and reduce the risk of death
by 28% in comparison to children in seat belts alone.
Booster seats reduce the risk of nonfatal injuries by
45% among 4 to 8 year olds. All 50 U.S. states and the
District of Columbia have mandatory child safety seat
laws in place to protect children.
Important Things
to Consider
safety in and
around the vehicle:
•Never leave a child
unattended in a
vehicle. Children’s
bodies heat up
3–5 times faster
than adults and
climb to dangerous
levels in minutes.
Set-up reminders:
nPlace your purse
or briefcase in the
back seat
nUse a stuffed doll
as a placeholder.
When your child is
in their car seat,
put the doll in the
front seat.
nHave the daycare
call both parents
if the expected
child does not
arrive within a set
time period
•Use child safety locks
on doors and windows
to keep children safe.
•Teach children to
never play in or around
parked cars.
nWalk around and
behind your vehicle
before moving it
•Teach your children to
not play with unused
seat belts. Seat belt
entanglement can
occur when a child
inadvertently engages the
automatic locking mode
of a switchable retractor
and wraps the belt around
a part of their body.
nIf necessary, buckle
unused seat belts
when using LATCH.
• Buckle up every trip,
every time.
• Carefully read the child
safety seat manufacturer’s
instructions and the
vehicle owner’s manual for
installation instructions
and warnings.
• Make sure to register your
child safety seat via mail,
online or by phone to be
notified of any potential
safety recalls.
• Be sure all harness straps
are properly threaded and
are not twisted.
• All children under age
13 should ride in the
back seat.
• Infants and toddlers should
ride rear-facing as long as
possible until age two or
until they reach the upper
weight limit of their rearfacing convertible seat.
When an infant rides rearfacing the shell of the car
seat absorbs much of the
crash forces and protects
their head, neck and spine.
Never place a rear-facing
child in the front seat with
an active passenger frontal
air bag!
• Once your child has
outgrown the rear-facing
seat, it is safest for them
to ride forward-facing until
they reach the upper weight
limit (40–65+ pounds) or
height limit of the seat.
• When a child has outgrown
their harness, they are not
yet ready for an adult safety
belt. They should use a
booster seat until they are at
least 4'9", usually between 8
to 12 years of age.
• Your child is ready for the
vehicle seat belt when the
lap and shoulder belt fit
them properly by conducting the seat belt fit test. This
is usually around 4'9".
• Never place the shoulder belt under your child’s arm
or behind his/her back. (see page 7 for the safety belt
fit test).
• Buckle unused safety belts when installing your child
safety seat with the LATCH (Lower Anchors and
Tethers for CHildren) system to prevent risk
of strangulation.
• Always check around cars to make sure children
are not playing near your vehicle before backing or
driving forward.
• On long car trips, always stop and take infants out of
their infant carrier every hour and a half to two hours
to keep their airway open.
• No more than one person should be placed in a safety
belt system — regardless of age.
Road safety is no accident.
What types of child seats are available?
Infant-only seats
Infant-only seats are designed for smaller infants for use
up to 22–30 or more pounds. For proper fit, the infant’s
head should not be closer than one inch from the top of
the car seat shell. Infant-only seats are installed to face
the rear of the vehicle only and are secured by either
the vehicle seat belt or the LATCH system. Never use
the seat belt and LATCH system together at the same
time! Toddlers should ride rear-facing until age two, or
until they reach the upper weight limit of the rear-facing
convertible seat, between 30–45 pounds. Remember,
never install a rear-facing child safety seat in the front
seat of a vehicle equipped with activated air bags.
•Harness straps must be
at or below the shoulders
for rear-facing children,
refer to the owner’s manual
for directions.
•The retainer clip should be
positioned at armpit level.
•The harness must be snug
so you cannot pinch any
webbing at the shoulders.
•Only use infant inserts and
padding that came with the
car seat in the box, never
add anything additional.
•In cold weather, dress
children in lightweight
clothing, secure the harness
then place a blanket or
jacket over the harness.
Convertible seats
These seats are designed for infants and toddlers. They
can be used in the rear-facing position between 30 to
45 pounds and in the forward-facing position. Always
read the car seat manufacturer’s instructions and labels
for the maximum weight and height limits for the rearfacing and forward-facing positions.
have a headrest for support. For vehicles that have
no headrest, a high-back booster should be used to
provide appropriate head support and even side impact
protection. Ask your child to buckle their booster
seat in when they get out of it. This will prevent the
unoccupied booster seat from becoming a projectile in
a collision.
Vehicle Seat Belt
Your child is ready to move into the vehicle seat belt
when the adult lap and shoulder belt fits them properly.
This is usually around 4'9" and between 8 to 12 years
of age. Never allow your child to place the shoulder
strap under their arm or behind their back. If they do,
they may not be ready to sit in the vehicle seat belt.
Have your child take the following seat belt fit test to
determine if they are ready to use the vehicle seat belt:
In the back seat, have
your child sit all the way
against the back of the
vehicle seat. Do their knees
bend at the edge of the
seat? If so, go on. If not,
they should continue to
use a booster seat.
Buckle the seat belt. Does
the lap belt stay low and
snug on their hips? If so,
go on. If it rests on the soft
part of the stomach, your
child should continue to
use a booster seat.
Look at the shoulder
belt. Does it rest on the
collarbone in the middle
of the shoulder? If yes,
go on. If it is on the face
or neck, your child still
needs a booster seat.
Can your child maintain the correct seating
position with the shoulder belt on their
shoulder and the lap belt low across their hips
throughout the entire trip? If so, your child
has passed the Safety Belt Fit Test. If not, they
should use a belt-positioning booster seat.
Combination seats
Combination seats are used forward-facing only and
become a booster seat once the child reaches the
maximum weight or height allowed for the harness.
Harness weight limits vary between 40 to 90 pounds and
booster seat weight limits go up to 100 or more pounds.
Combination seats are more likely to have a taller shell
and higher harness slot positions than convertible car
seats so older children can remain in a harness longer
than their convertible car seat. The harness can be
removed once the child reaches the height or weight
limit of the harness and the seat becomes a beltpositioning booster seat.
Belt-Positioning Boosters
Belt-positioning booster seats are
for children who have reached
the top weight and height limit of
their forward-facing harness but
are shorter than 4'9". Booster seats
elevate children so the vehicle
lap and shoulder belt fits them
properly. Most children do not
reach 4'9" until they are between
8 to 12 years of age.
All booster seats must be
used with a lap and shoulder
belt. Backless boosters should
only be used in vehicles that
•Harness straps should be at or
above the shoulders for all
forward-facing children, refer to
manufacturer’s instructions.
•The retainer clip should be positioned
at armpit level.
•The harness must be snug so
you cannot pinch any webbing at
the shoulders.
•Read the car seat instruction manual
to determine the correct seat belt path
for installation.
Common Mistakes Parents Make:
•Not using a child safety seat or booster seat when needed
•Harness twisted, loose or at improper height
•The car seat moves more than 1 inch front-to-back and
side-to-side at the belt path
•Not using the top tether for forward-facing seats
•Retainer clip (chest clip) not at armpit level
Do you know how to
install a child safety
seat properly?
Buying the correct child
safety seat won’t protect
your child properly
if you don’t install it
correctly. According to the
National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration,
approximately 3 out of
every 4 child safety seats
are not used correctly.
Read the child safety seat
manufacturer’s instructions
and the vehicle owner’s
manuals before you install
the seat in your vehicle.
the “safety restraint” section of your vehicle owner’s
manual for details. Additionally, most vehicles made
after September 2002, have at least three top tether
anchors and two sets of lower anchors. The use of
lower anchors in the rear center seating position is
rare so it is important to consult your vehicle owner’s
manual to determine if it is permissible. If not, you
must use the seat belt in that seating position.
All child safety seats must
be properly secured in the
vehicle using either the
vehicle’s seat belt or LATCH
system to ensure safe
performance in a crash or sudden stop. Both LATCH
and the seat belts offer the same protection and should
never be used at the same time. Make sure not to overtighten the seat because this can cause damage to the
child safety seat or vehicle. When testing for tightness
there should be no more than one inch of side-to-side
or forward movement at the belt path. It is important
to read the car seat manual to identify the correct path
to use with the seat belt or LATCH system.
After securing the child safety seat to the vehicle, it is
equally important to properly secure your child in the
seat. The retainer clip must be placed at armpit level
on your child’s body. The harness straps should be flat,
not twisted, and adjusted so they are snug and you are
unable to pinch any slack near their shoulder.
How do you properly secure your child
in the seat?
Can I use my child safety seat
when flying?
It is a good idea to determine an airline carrier’s
policy regarding the use of child safety seats or other
requirements such as seat location or the purchase of
an additional ticket when booking the flight. Be sure
to check your child restraint for an FAA certification
label indicating that it is safe to use for air travel.
Many passenger vehicles made after 1995 have
“switchable retractor” systems. The retractor can be
switched from an “emergency locking retractor” (ELR)
system to an “automatic locking retractor” (ALR)
system designed to secure a child safety seat. Refer to
ere are other types of seat belt systems that
require special installation procedures to hold safety
seats secure.
Should you buy a used child safety seat?
If you must use a second-hand child safety seat, make
sure you can answer yes to all of the following questions:
• Has the car seat expired or been recalled? Car
seats can only be used for 6 years unless a longer
date is allowed by the seat manufacturer. Child seat
manufacturers provide the date of manufacture or
expiration date on the seat or label as a guide for
how long the seat can be used. Further expiration
information can be found in the instruction manual.
To identify if the car seat is under recall, use the
manufacturer's label to obtain the model name,
model number and date of manufacture. Then visit or call the NHTSA Hotline at
(800) 424-9393.
• Is the manufacturer’s instruction booklet available for
you to consult? Read the information carefully so you
can be sure you have all the necessary parts and can
install the seat properly.
• Was the seat well maintained?
• Are the harness straps free of fraying and discoloration?
Sunlight is a leading case of deterioration.
• Is the webbing completely free of any signs of wear in
places where it passes over the slots?
• Do the buckles operate properly?
• Are all the necessary parts included? If the
installation requires a tether strap or locking clip, are
they readily available?
•Is the child seat free of cracks, bends, loose bolts, etc.?
• It was never involved in a moderate to severe crash.
How do you select the best safety seat
for your child?
When buying a safety seat, remember to select one that
is appropriate for your child, fits your vehicle and you
will use correctly every time you transport your child.
You can visit to access their ease of
use rating system on car seats, this will help you find
seats that have convenience factors, safety features and
simple instructions to follow.
Do not base your selection of a child safety seat solely
on price. All child safety seats must meet the same
federal motor vehicle safety standards.
what to do with expired car seats:
•Destroy the car seat by completely dismantling it
•Cut the harness straps and fabric
•Break up the foam
•Discard the car seat shell and components on different collection
days to avoid someone from re-assembling the car seat
•Ask your local recycle center if parts can be recycled
Try installing the seat in your vehicle to be certain that
it fits and can be tightly secured. Most stores will allow
you to examine different models prior to buying a seat.
Use this opportunity to identify the seat that best fits
your child.
For more information on Child Passenger
Safety please contact:
•Find a technician to help you correctly install your
child safety seat — visit or call
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
National Child Passenger Safety Board
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Traffic Safety Programs
1000 AAA Drive
Heathrow, Florida 32746-5063
Printed in USA
Stock # 3400
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