Child Passenger Safety
Child Passenger Safety Recommendations
All occupants of all ages should be properly restrained in a moving vehicle. But because of childrens’ smaller sizes, a regular seat belt won’t properly protect them until they are older. There are four steps to child passenger safety:
- Rear-facing car seat: All infants and children should be placed in a rear-facing car seat with a 5-point harness until they reach the maximum height or weight allowed by their seat. Rear-facing car seats should never be put in the front seat in front of an air bag. Colorado law requires infants up to 1 year and 20 pounds to be rear-facing; however the American Academy of Pediatrics, Safe Kids Worldwide, and many other safety experts recommend staying rear-facing until your child reaches the maximum height or weight for the seat. Most convertible car seats will accommodate children rear-facing up to 40 pounds or more. Rear-facing is the safest restraint for a child.
- Forward-facing car seat: Once a child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, he or she is ready for a forward-facing car seat with a 5-point harness. Keep a child in the 5-point harness until he or she reaches the maximum height and weight for the seat, regardless of age. The 5-point harness is superior in safety compared to a booster seat. The tether should be used on all forward-facing car seats. Car seat fit recommendations can be found here.
- Booster seat: Once a child outgrows the forward-facing car seat, he or she is likely ready to use the lap and shoulder belt with a booster seat, still in the back seat. Booster seats should never be used with lap-only seat belts. Colorado law requires children to ride in a car seat or booster seat until their 8th birthday, but many children will not properly fit in a seat belt alone at this age. Keep children in a booster seat until they are at least 4’9”. The back seat is always the safest location for children to ride.
- Seat belt: When a child's knees bend comfortably over the edge of the vehicle seat without slouching, and the child is at least 4'9", he or she is likely ready to use a seat belt alone. Be sure to wear the seat belt properly: lap belt across the hips and shoulder strap comfortably crossing the shoulder between the neck and arm; never place the shoulder belt behind the arm or back. By Colorado law, all occupants in a vehicle must wear a seat belt, and it is a primary offense for anyone under the age of 16 not to use a seat belt or child restraint.
Car Seat Installation
Approximately 3/4 of children ride in car seats that are not properly installed. There are many places around the metro area where you can get your car seat checked for free. Check the quick links to the right for more information.
Learn more about the Colorado Child Restraint Law.