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Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany

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Protect your children in vehicle's back seat, buckle them up

By - | | January 30, 2003

Unknowingly some parents put their children in danger every time they fasten them into a vehicle. With so many safety features and constantly changing rules, it can be tough to keep track of the safest ways to secure a child into a vehicle. Parents may think it is unsafe to fasten their child in the back seat where they cannot see him. But according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, they are wrong.

Children ages 12 and under should always ride in the back seat to reduce the severity of possible injuries in an accident, said Staff Sgt. Herbert J. Kennedy, who is in charge of the base's Driver Improvement Course and instructing Marines on the proper use of child safety seats.

"The majority of deaths in children involved in car accidents are caused by the  [front seat] passenger-side airbag," said Kennedy. "Kids are short and the airbag deploys directly into their faces, breaking their necks."

Georgia law requires children four years old and younger to be secured in a child safety seat or a booster seat. The safety or booster seat must be used appropriately in coordination with the manufacturer's instructions. All child safety seat instructions specify the age, height and weight limits for the correct use.  Everyone in the vehicle is required to use a safety belt.

If parents own a truck or vehicle with passenger side airbags that do not have a back seat, they can take other safety precautions to ensure the safety of their child. An on-off switch for airbags can be installed, and the child in the safety seat should face toward the front of the vehicle.

When securing a child safety seat into a vehicle, parents should always read the instruction manual to ensure the seat is being properly used, said Kennedy.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, infants, children from birth to age 1 and who are at least 20 pounds - should ride in a safety seat in the back seat of the vehicle facing the rear. When a child is 1 year or older and at least 20 pounds, he may ride in the same fashion, but the safety seat can face forward. To ensure the safety of children they should ride in a safety seat equipped with a full body harness until they weigh about 40 pounds. Children who weigh between 40-80 pounds should ride in a booster seat that uses the adult lap and shoulder belt in the back seat of the vehicle. Use of the booster seat can be discontinued when the adult lap and shoulder belt fit the child properly.

Parents who drive vehicles not equipped with shoulder harness seat belts can contact the vehicle dealer and inquire about having shoulder harness adapters installed so booster seats can be properly used.

For more information about child safety seats, visit www.nhtsa.gov .