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Car seat safety at Children's Hospital Colorado
Motor vehicle crashes still kill more kids than any other cause of death - yet more than 90% of the children who attended safety seat checkups in Colorado last year were buckled up incorrectly. Make sure you are following the current laws and the safest practice for your child. The best practice may differ from the law, so read our tips to make sure your child is properly secured.
Booster seat law effective Aug 1, 2011
Children ages 4-8 (through their 8th birthday) must use either a car seat or booster. Effective, Aug. 1, 2011, if you are not in compliance with this law, you could face a fine of $82 or more.
All children under 8 years old
Colorado Law: Children under 8 years old must be properly restrained in a child restraint system.
Infants up to age one
Colorado Law: 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.
Safest Practice: Use a rear-facing seat for as long as possible. Many convertible car seats can be used facing the rear until 35 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 impacts.
Children between the ages of 1 and 4
Colorado Law: Children who are older than age 1 and weigh more than 20 lbs. must be properly restrained in a car seat.
Safest Practice: Restrain your 1 to 4 year old in a rear or forward facing seat with a 5 point harness system until they are at least 40 lbs.There are forward facing car seats available with much higher weight limits. This type of harness system has more places to distribute crash forces and offers better protection than a lap and shoulder belt.
Keep them in the back seat.
Use upper-tether straps where possible.
Children between the ages of 4 and 8
Colorado Law: Children 4-8 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.
Safest Practice: 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:
- she is 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 her upper thighs (not her abdomen)
- her knees bend at the edge of the back seat and her feet dangle down
Learn more about booster seat safety and usage guidelines.
Children between the ages of 8 and 16
Colorado Law: Children between the ages of 8 and 16 must use a seatbelt or child restraint.
Safest Practice: Follow the guidelines above to know when your child can safely stop using the booster. Keep your child in the back seat as long as possible, at least until 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.
Remember that your children learn by watching their parents, this includes good driving habits.
Read Colorado's Child Restraint Law which goes into effect on August 1, 2010.
Which car seat or booster is right for my child?
Make sure your car seat or booster is installed correctly to best protect your child. Safe Kids Denver Metro coalition affiliated agencies provide free car seat education and inspection throughout the Denver metro area where a certified technician can help with car seat installation. Find a car seat inspection station (pdf) near you.
You can also contact a certified child passenger safety (CPS) technician at www.carseatscolorado.com.
How to keep kids safe in five easy steps
Car Seat Safety from Children's Hospital Colorado