Thursday, September 30, 2010

Car Seat Safety – Protecting Our Children

In Georgia, automobile accidents are the leading cause of death and injuries for children ages 1 to 12 years. The lack or improper use of car seats is a significant contributor to this sobering statistic. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 40% of children under 6 who die or suffer debilitating injuries in automobile accidents are unrestrained or improperly restrained; however, when car seats are used correctly they are 71% effective in preventing injury among infants and 54% effective with children ages 1-4.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion concerning the proper restraining methods and what is required by Georgia law.

According to Georgia law (O.C.G.A. § 40-8-76.1):

•ALL children under the age of six, regardless of how tall they are, must ride in the backseat of a car. A child is safer in the back and farthest away from the force of an airbag. Remember that airbags are designed to save adults, and since they deploy with great force they can be fatal to children.

•Children under the age of six are required to be in either a car seat or a booster seat suitable for their age and height.

•If there is not a back seat in the vehicle (e.g., a truck) or if other restrained children are in the back seat, Georgia law permits a child under the age of six to sit in front if restrained in the proper car seat or booster.

NHTSA recommends the following as a guideline for child seat safety. These guidelines are stronger than the current requirements of the State of Georgia.

Furthermore, we highly recommend that, until your child is the proper size to use a standard safety belt, your child should use a safety seat equipped with a 5 point harness. A 5 point harness is comprised of straps or webbing that extend over your child’s hips, shoulders/collar bones, and between their legs. These types of safety restraints more evenly distribute the force during impact which could save your child’s life in a crash. Please view this video to see why simple shoulder harnesses may not be sufficient to protect your child.

Also, it is very important to make sure that a child’s car seat is properly installed. The majority of parents believe that their child’s car seat is properly installed, but research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that 8 out of 10 car seats are installed incorrectly.

As a guide, when a car seat is properly installed one should not be able to move the car seat more than one inch in any direction. The seatbelt should be threaded through the car seat and completely latched. The shoulder strap should be pulled all the way out until it clicks and then should be fed back into column. This will ensure that the car seat does not fly forward in the event of an emergency stop or accident. For more information on how to properly install a car seat, you can watch this video.

The Macon attorneys, at the Studstill Firm, we feel that the saddest injury cases we handle are cases involving children. The statistics are appalling and very sad when you think about the number of children whose lives and limbs could have been saved if they were only properly restrained. If you are unsure whether your child or the child of a friend or loved one is being properly restrained or if the car seat is properly secured, you can also stop by your local fire station or health clinic for tips.

- In Macon, GA you can go to Bibb County Health Dept. located at 171 Emery Highway
- In Warner Robins, GA you can go to Houston Healthcare located at 233 North Houston Rd. Suite 140, D
- In Valdosta, GA you can go to the fire station located at 106 South Oak Street
- In Tifton, GA you can go to the health department located at 305 12th Street East

Go to for more locations across the nation.

For more information concerning car seat safety please visit,,, and You can also call 1-866-732-8243.