As children grow, parents are less likely to ensure that they are properly secured in a booster seat or with a seat belt, according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.
"[O]verall few children are using the restraints recommended for their age group, and many children over five are sitting in the front seat," noted study investigator, Dr. Macy.
Properly installed and properly used child safety restraints can drastically cut the number of children that are fatally injured in a car accident each year. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for children over three but research shows that the number of infants fatally injured in a car crash can be cut by as much as 70 percent if car seats are used.
Toddlers between one and four that are properly restrained are half as likely to be fatally injured in a car accident as well.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends rear-facing car seats for children until they are two years old or exceed the height and weight standards for the seat itself. Children should then be secured in forward-facing car seats until they grow out of them, followed by a booster seat. Booster seats are appropriate until a child is 4'9" tall, which typically occurs between the ages of 8 and 12.
Florida requires children three and under to be secured in an approved child restraint system whenever they are in a car. Four- and five-year-old children must also be restrained, but may use a seat belt. Children six years old and older may sit in the front seat but must also wear a seat belt until age 17.
Source: CBSNews, "U.S. children at risk from poor adherence to car seat guidelines, study warns," August 8, 2012